Bendigo Zonta Club helps babies’ survival

Members of the community are invited to help the Zonta Club of Bendigo pack 1000 birthing kits for expectant mothers in developing countries.

The Bendigo club meets each year to assemble thousands of kits, which are distributed by AusAid to more than 9000 trained birth attendants worldwide.

This year’s assembly day is at the Anne Caudle Centre tomorrow from 10am to 4pm.  Morning and afternoon tea will be provided to volunteers.

The kits, which at $3 cost less than a cup of coffee, contain six items necessary for a clean birth including a piece of plastic, rubber gloves, gauze, soap, string and a scalpel blade.

Bendigo Zonta member and former midwife Irene McKinna said one in seven women died during childbirth in remote Papua New Guinea.

That figure is mirrored across a large part of Asia and Africa.

Mrs McKinna said in Afghanistan, where local health infrastructure had been crippled by war, the risk of maternal death was one in 32 compared to Australia’s one in 2800. 

“One NGO (non-government organisation) there reported that ‘only one woman died and no babies’ after it received its first allocation of 2359 kits,” she said.

“Normally for this number of births the death rate could have been well over 40 women and possibly as high as 100, plus hundreds of babies. 

“For every 11 kits we produce, a life is saved. And often, if mum survives, baby will survive too.” 

What started with the simple goal of creating a clean environment for mothers in developing countries to give birth has touched the lives of one million women.

Twelve years ago the Zonta Club of Bendigo was one of the first Zonta groups in Australia to begin producing and distributing the birthing kits. 

Bendigo Zonta president Rosalie Lake said the milestone was an ideal time to pause and acknowledge the efforts of the club and Bendigo community.

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