October 31, 2012 — The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has awarded a $5 million grant to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, a Massachusetts-based not-for-profit tasked with improving transportation to medical facilities for pregnant women and new mothers in Ghana, the New York Times reports.
IHI Vice President Pierre Barker said there are many obstacles in rural Ghana that prevent pregnant women from reaching the hospital, such as impassable roads and prejudice against women and infants leaving the house. The chances of an infant dying can be reduced if a person trained -- even rudimentarily -- in Western medicine can attend to a woman while she is giving birth and if a medical provider can see the infant within a couple days, according to the Times.
Barker said IHI has sent expert committees to villages to try to convince chiefs that women should give birth at clinics instead of with untrained midwives, who may be unable to provide proper diagnoses or sanitary treatment. IHI also made a deal with local taxi drivers to take women in labor to hospitals at no charge in return for allowing them to "jump the line" to pick up passengers who were returning home, according to the Times (McNeil, New York Times, 10/29).
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