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By PDG Belinda Yeung, JP, Rotary Club of Hong Kong Harbour

April is Maternal and Child Health Month

What Is your Rotary Club doing to focus on Maternal and Child Health in April 2022?

Every day mothers risk their lives giving birth and millions of children die each year from treatable, preventable causes.An estimated 5.9 million children under the age of five die each year because of malnutrition, inadequate health care, and poor sanitation — all of which can be prevented.

Rotary makes high-quality health care available to vulnerable mothers and children so they can live longer and grow stronger


Rotary provides education, immunizations, birth kits, mobile health clinics and supported trained health care providers for mothers and their children. Women are taught how to prevent mother-to-infant HIV transmission, how to breast-feed, and how to protect themselves and their children from disease.

International (Rotarians in Brazil and Japan)

Many new mothers in Brazil whose babies weren’t due for three months and with babies were weighing barely 2 pounds. These mothers were facing challenges due to the limited incubators for babies in state-run hospitals which could provide critical care for them to survive.

A state-run facility in Brazil’s Ribeira Valley, its’ neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) lacks incubators which meant some of the hospital’s most vulnerable newborns had to be transferred, which was a factor in São Paulo state’s high infant mortality rate. 

The Rotary Club of Registro-Ouro and the Rotary Club of Registro partnered with two clubs in Nakatsugawa, Japan recognized the need for this state-fun hospital and applied for Rotary Foundation global grant. They funded equipment including five incubators for the hospital’s NICU, which nearly doubled the hospital’s capacity to care for fragile newborns.

Other equipment provided through the grant included five ventilators, a bilirubin meter, three heated cribs, five vital-sign monitors, and a super LED microprocessed phototherapy unit to treat babies with jaundice.

The grant also funded the cost of publicity to inform residents about prenatal care workshops conducted by area health workers. The publicity campaign aimed to reach mothers in remote areas who may not know what services are available to them or about the importance of prenatal care and breast-feeding. 

In 2013, 129 babies were admitted to the NICU; since the completion of the project, the hospital has been able to care for about 220 babies per year.  Apart from helping babies to survive, the project also built friendship and bonding between Rotary members of both countries.