As we at the Casa Materna MAJ celebrate 25 years of service to more than 17,500 rural mothers and newborns, we give thanks for a multitude of
friends, including all of you at ProNica! Without your support, this miracle could not have happened!
When we began our service to rural mothers with high-risk pregnancies in October of 1991, we were the second Casa Materna in Nicaragua. At that time, there was a maternal death somewhere in the world every minute of every day. We called it the “silent epidemic” as the daily death rate of 1,440 mothers made no headlines, nor was it mentioned on the nightly news.
In Nicaragua, the reported maternal death rate was 190 deaths/100,000 live births and in some parts of our northern mountainous region, the rate was as high as 375/100,000. Women died because they had no voice and seemed to “not count” in a country recovering from the violence of a counter-revolution.
We are happy to report that, with the help of the United Nations millennium goals and the Nicaraguan Health Ministry’s commitment to increase the number of Casa Maternas in the country, the maternal death rate has been reduced to 50 deaths/100,000 live births, a nearly 74% reduction. World-wide the reported reduction of maternal deaths between 2000 and 2015 was 47%.
There are now more than 165 government sponsored Casas in the country though some are simply small rooms added on to rural health centers. As the number of Casa Maternas has increased, the service at Casa Materna MAJ has become even more focused on mothers presenting higher risks in their pregnancies. Some of these risks include: pre-eclampsia, extremely high blood pressure, previous C-section, age (mothers under 18 and over 35), along with other health conditions.
In addition, half of the work of the Casa staff is focused on outreach to midwives, adolescents, and new mothers organized into support groups in their communities. Our key goal is to reduce the number of mothers with higher- risks, thus ensuring safer birthing for all.