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It's time to bring back the "human" in "humanity"

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“…and that is where your aunt Kalsoom was born”, my great Uncle Shabir casually remarked in fast Punjabi, pointing to the bed I was sitting on whilst eating my rice and lentils. “We didn’t have proper midwives back then in Pakistan; the bed you’re sitting on has endured countless births and deaths… enjoy your rice!”

Thanks for that, Uncle Shabir. Such a thoughtful man. He taught me many things that trip to Pakistan— one of them being that food didn’t taste as good going up as it did coming down.

Pregnancy: one of the most beautiful, universal and natural processes known to mankind.  Whether you’re dilating ten centimetres on a hospital bed or a birthing pool or having a caesarean, giving birth is an experience the XY female species has experienced since the beginning of humankind. As implicitly suggested by my great uncle, the growth of technology and medicines available in the 21stcentury has meant that child mortality rates are, generally, much lower than they were centuries before us.

These technologies though are unequally distributed around the world. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the risk of a minor dying before the age of five is still highest in the WHO African Region. While in the WHO European region it stands at 12 deaths per 1000 births, conversely in Kenya, according to the World Bank’s latest 2014-15 figures, the child mortality rate is 71 deaths per 1000 births. In Mexico, it stands at 40 deaths per 1000 births. In Nepal, there are 39 deaths per 1000 births— and that’s not taking into account the impact of the two earthquakes which have recently caused great devastation in the country.

It’s all well and good to just hear these statistics and feel a sense of sympathy for our sisters around the world, and to then return to our everyday lives. However, I am writing this article as a call for us to bring back the element of the “human” in “humanity”; to do something about the issue of complications related issue on a practical, grass roots level.

What can you do to help?

Casey Santiago has the answer. CEO of the innovative, philanthropic platform “Kangu”, Santiago has always been passionate about global health, and set up the crowd-funding site to limit preventable deaths. Kangu is a unique charity in that it allows givers to crowd-fund secure birth spaces for pregnant women in Bolivia, Kenya, Mexico, Nepal and Uganda. How it works is very simple. You read the profiles of pregnant women from the listed countries, pick a ‘mum-to-be’ and then donate as little as ten dollars to fund the critical medical services to support the labour process.

 In Britain, we are fortunate that generally most of the time women in labour are able to deliver the birth of their child/ren in a safe, enclosed hospital environment. This isn’t the case across the world, and sadly each day, according to the “” website, “800 women in ‘developing’ countries die from a complication related to pregnancy or childbirth”. What is more, the charity stresses, is that “90% of these deaths could be prevented with access to proper medical care and a safe and clean labour environment”. Ninety percent.

We all have bills to pay, sure. However, a one-off donation could make the difference between life and death— whether that’s for the mother or child. Isn’t that worth more than say, the $10 equivalent spent on an extra pair of sunglasses (you don’t really need) from H&M? It’s time for us to take off our rose-coloured glasses and do our small bit to help women experience a safe space to deliver their children in.

Kangu is a small, but impactful attempt to help level out the playing field in the world in terms of lowering child/pregnant mother mortality rates. By donating whatever you can, you become a part of the mother-to-be’s birth story. You’ll receive updates from the charity from labour onwards, giving you the chance to see first-hand where your money is going.  

This project is not a ‘civilising mission’ to save those pregnant women from so-called ‘developing’ countries. It is a practical response to reduce these inequities across the world; to prevent child deaths where they can so easily be prevented.

This article was contributed by Sabah Choudhry and was originally published here.