Maternity Worldwide grew out of the frustrations of what was initially a small group of public health professionals at the needless deaths in childbirth of so many women in developing countries. The charity was founded in 2002 by Adrian Brown and Shane Duffy.

Maternity Worldwide is a secular organisation with no religious affiliations. Our projects and services are open to all members of local communities regardless of their faith or background. Our work is mainly in poor rural areas where some health services are often provided by faith based organisations as well as by the government. We work in partnership with organisations which share our vision and values.

Our story starts in Ethiopia where, in 2002, Maternity Worldwide was invited by the Zonal Health Department and Adventist Health International (AHI) to help develop maternity services for West Wollega Zone. Since the opening of the delivery unit at the AHI hospital in Gimbie, Western Ethiopia in August 2003, Maternity Worldwide has been responsible for running the delivery unit. Initially our work comprised the provision of training to raise the skills levels of maternity staff in the unit as well as providing mentoring and emergency obstetric cover. In Ethiopia at this time the Government imposed charges on women for maternal health services so we set up a Safe Birth Fund to enable the poorest women to access care.

Maternity Worldwide’s vision is of a world in which all women and their babies can access safe and appropriate childbirth regardless of where they live

In 2005 Maternity Worldwide conducted a detailed maternal health needs assessment of West Wollega. Based on this we made a successful submission to the Big Lottery Fund. This grant allowed us to further improve maternal health services in the whole Gimbie Province (see Integrated Maternal Health Programme Phase 1 2007-2009). Our integrated maternal health programme was very successful and met or exceeded all of its targets and led to significant improvements in maternal health outcomes for women in the area (click here to see our Evaluation Report and four short films).

In partnership with Maternity Worldwide Denmark, we have now extended the programme across West Wollega (click here to see a summary of objectives and progress to date for Phase 2 2010-2014). The roll out of the second phase has been complemented by a welcome and significant investment in maternal health by the Ethiopian government, as part of their drive to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This has included building a new government hospital in Gimbie and removing user fees for maternity services at the four hospitals and all the health centres and health posts. This has allowed Maternity Worldwide to phase out the Safe Birth Fund and to research, develop and implement sustainable solutions to further improve maternal and newborn health in partnership with local and national government.

We know that our integrated maternal approach saves women’s lives and we are now seeking to roll the model out to other areas of sub-Saharan Africa where need is the greatest. We will be working in partnership with local organisations and governments in other countries to enable the most disadvantaged women to access high quality maternal health care.  In 2010 we started an Integrated Maternal Health Programme in Zomba District, one of the poorest regions of Malawi (click here to read more). Following a detailed needs assessment in 2011 we are in the process of developing a further programme in Hoima in Western Uganda (click here to read more about our partnerships and plans).

Maternity Worldwide has completed a range of other projects – in fact we have now worked in 11 developing countries. For further information follow this link.