The Safe Motherhood Project is a group of Canadian and Guatemalan nurses, doctors, midwives, traditional birth attendants, and volunteers. We provide education and training to rural Mayan midwives and traditional birth attendants throughout Guatemala. Over the years, the Salmon Arm Daybreak Rotary Club has supported this project financially and in 2016, two Rotarians joined the medical team to help support in a more practical way.
Guatemala has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, 30 to 60 times higher than in Canada. Hemorrhage, eclampsia and infection are the major causes of death of women during childbirth. Seventy per cent of women in rural Guatemala give birth at home under the care of a traditional birth attendant, or “comadrona,” who in most cases has no formal education or training.Â Often the closest hospital is several hours away.
Since 2003, a group of Canadian volunteers and a team of Guatemalan midwives have travelled annually to rural Guatemala to teach comadronas emergency birthing skills. The course runs for four five-hour days. At the end of the four days, each comadrona who completes the course receives a kit of birthing supplies. The course has been well received.Â Each year there has been increasing enrollment and more and more communities are requesting the course.