Each year more than 200,000 women and 1 million newborn babies die from maternal health and newborn complications in Sub-Saharan Africa. Infections and diseases like pneumonia, malaria or diarrhoea are the main causes, together with premature and low-weight birth, lack of hygiene or of a safe place during labour and delivery.


The simple fact is that most of these deaths can be prevented by easy, available and cost effective solutions, as long as pregnant women and new mothers with infants get the right health care at the right time. 


How is St John helping?

St John is working in Malawi, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe – where mother and child mortality is among the highest in the world.




Am very grateful to St John for the support rendered to me during the last trimester of the previous pregnancy. I delivered well in Jinja Hospital having planned well for the pregnancy and birth of our baby.

Nabagala Fatumah, Uganda






Our programme currently supports 20,000 people each year: pregnant women, new mothers with infants, husbands/partners. We also reach out to 14,000 community members with health education on safe motherhood.


Support from local volunteers

The biggest life savers for mothers and babies are family planning, prenatal care and delivery in the safe environment of a health facility, where many birth complications can be diagnosed and treated. Local St John staff and volunteers from the communities visit households to give advice on healthy pregnancy and post-natal care for newborn babies, and on developing birth plans to avoid emergencies. The approach is volunteer-led and locally owned.


Strengthening the role of men

In countries like Malawi, health decisions for women are often made by their husbands. In their attempt to address this barrier for good maternal health, St John male volunteers will engage with men and boys to raise awareness of the importance of maternal and newborn health. Men are mobilised to strengthen their role during pregnancy, delivery and after childbirth. 


Improving access to health services

In remote locations where health care is not available, the volunteers and local health staff run outreach clinics. These makeshift clinics in tents or spare rooms provide HIV testing, family planning, and checks for pregnant women, new mothers and babies.


Partnership with local health services

St John works closely with local health services and provides a basic package of support for local health clinics such as scales to weigh pregnant women and newborns, blood pressure monitors, and wooden benches so pregnant women do not have to sit on the floor while waiting for a check-up. 

In Zimbabwe, St John is currently building a maternity shelter so women are encouraged to arrive early for safe delivery and stay for observation after giving birth before heading home.


You can support our mother and baby programme in Africa through your donation.