St John Scotland launches support for the Mother and Baby Programme in Africa Following the reception evening on Thursday 21 May at the Roxburghe hotel, St John Scotland has announced their support for health programmes in sub Saharan Africa will be extended to the St John Mother and Baby Programme in Malawi and Zambia. Compared to Scotland, in Malawi and Zambia an infant is ten to fifteen times more likely to die before its first birthday. Also in the UK, 1 out of every 6,900 women has a lifetime risk of dying from complications of pregnancy or childbirth. In Zambia, this is a risk for 1 of every 59 women, and in Malawi it is 1 of every 33 women. Each year more than 179,000 women and 1 million newborn babies die from maternal health and newborn complications in sub-Saharan Africa. Most of these deaths could have been avoided. Many guests including St John Scotland members, Scotland- Malawi Partnership and University of Edinburgh were invited to learn more about the programme running in Malawi and Zambia. David Hope-Jones the Principal Officer of the Scotland-Malawi Partnership said that St John has already done a fantastic job so far in transforming a great many lives in Malawi: I’m really excited to learn more about this new project which is going to go from strength to strength over the next few years. Scotland has a 156-year relationship with Malawi, 94,000 Scots are actively involved and 46% of Scots have a friend or a family member with links to Malawi. That’s an incredible level public awareness, but also public support for these links. If we stand together, not as two nations, but as one nation in our fight to address the extreme poverty in Malawi in a dignified partnership where both benefit and both contribute, I think that’s where the real change is going to come. Lisa Wood, Projects Manager at the University of Edinburgh’s Global Health Academy, said that helping people to help themselves was the key: When you go into any country you need to understand the context that you are working in, the culture, the people and what is sustainable. If you come in with an idea that is maybe sustainable in the developed world to use in the developing world, then potentially it may not work, because you need to understand what can be delivered and what people are able to sustainably manage. We must never have the assumption that we know everything. We always need to look around and learn from others. It is a constant learning curve, but we are getting better at it. It may be in small pockets, but great strides have been made. The Mother and Baby Programme trains local St John volunteers within their communities to provide support to women during pregnancy and delivery, and to mothers and newborn children in the critical periods after birth. St John Malawi and St John Zambia also work closely with health authorities in each country, and support efforts to bring basic health care services closer to poor and under-served communities. The programme is currently being run in Malawi and Zambia with the support from St John International and the Big Lottery Fund, with further plans for it to be rolled out in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe. St John Scotland has supported health outreach programmes in Malawi since 2004 and also contributes to the International St John Emergency Relief Fund. St John Scotland also promotes newborn child health at home, having donated an ambulance with advanced intensive care equipment to the Scottish Neonatal Transport Service. This will help transport critically ill babies to medical centres in the West of Scotland. To further their priority of newborn and maternal health, St John Scotland will work in partnership with St John International to support the Mother and Baby Programme in Africa. Others commented on the St John Scotland’s support for the Mother and Baby Programme: The Duke of Gloucester, Grand Prior of St John said: With the support from St John Scotland, I am excited to see the Mother and Baby Programme expanding in Africa, helping new mothers and newborn babies. Sir Malcolm Ross, Prior of St John Scotland: I am immensely proud that we are able to support the Mother and Baby Programme in conjunction with St John International and other St John Establishments in Africa to help save mothers and newborn babies lives. “It fits exactly with our aim of helping to improve the safety, health and quality of life of people in need.