Annually Zonta International distributes simple birthing kits to more than 30 third world countries. These kits include essential equipment to provide a clean birth and reduce the incidents of neo natal tetanus. Our club makes over 1000 kits each year.
Worldwide, an estimated 385,000 women die annually in childbirth, most of them in developing countries, and many from infections acquired during childbirth.
A birthing kit is are a pack of six simple items which enable these women to give birth at home in a clean environment, thereby decreasing the risk of death from infection and bleeding. The six items are: a sheet of plastic to provide a clean birth site, a cake of soap and a pair of rubber gloves for the birthing attendant to have clean hands, and basic surgical items – a scalpel blade, gauze pads and clips or ties for the umbilical cord.
The first birthing kits were made by the Zonta club of the Adelaide Hills Area following attendance by one of its members, Dr Joy O’Hazy, at the 4th World Conference for Women in 1995 in Beijing where she heard the actress, Sally Field, speak about how these small kits that cost less than a dollar could save a life. In 1999 the club turned the idea into a reality by organising the first assembly day. Today, the birthing kits and education in clean birthing practices are provided by the Birthing Kit Foundation, a not-for-profit non-government organisation (NGO) based in Adelaide, but Zonta clubs throughout Australia still support the project, organizing assembly days. By August 2012, one million birthing kits had been assembled and distributed.
The Foundation works with carefully screened partner organisations to distribute the kits and ensure that health professionals provide instruction in how to use the kits correctly.
Read more on Birthing Kits Foundation