2001 - Maternal and Infant Health Become the Program’s Focus

By 2001, it was becoming apparent once again that BPD ought to consider a more intentional effort focusing on one crucial issue: reducing child and maternal mortality in villages.

Rather than funding a wide range of programs we decided that our resources might be better used if they had a more narrow focus. We gradually phased out grant-making to other programs, while strengthening our collaboration with BFG. A five-year Partnership Agreement was designed between the two entities: BPD would lead rural health efforts while BFG focused on curative care and institutional strengthening.

Comadronas (traditional birth attendants or TBAs) are the village “go-to” when mothers give birth. BPD’s program of addressing maternal and infant health focused primarily on enhanced training of TBAs in the area of San Martín Jilotepeque. The well-received training revealed a pressing and persistent problem: “How can we safely deliver babies when families don’t have clean water?”

In response, BPD’s “Companion Projects” took shape, the heart of which was clean water projects. Los Jometes was the first community to collaborate with BPD on a water project. Other essential Companion Projects were latrines, grey water filters for improved drainage, and safe, vented stoves to replace traditional open fires used for cooking — all major contributions to improving family health.

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Voices Today: Sue Patterson’s Memories of her Years on the Board.