Nirmala Jha, a 33-year-old resident of Tughlakabad, developed complications half an hour after she delivered a healthy child in June this year. Had it not been for life-saving measures taken by the nurse on duty that day, Nirmala would not have survived.

“Stories of Mothers Saved”, a multimedia campaign by the White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood (WRA), was launched here on Thursday. An eight-minute film showcasing stories of women who did not die needlessly in pregnancy or childbirth in India was screened as part of the campaign which is supported by United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

The Princess of Jordon, Sarah Zeid, was the guest of honour.

“We hope the pictures and video will make the campaign more mobile,” said WRA India national coordinator Dr. Aparajita Gogoi.

The film features stories of women from different parts of rural India who survived childbirth due to “key action” taken by other women, their own families, health workers, their community, political leaders or others.

Referring to “compelling stories” of Indian women in the film, WRA executive director and president Theresa Shaver said: “Every woman has a right to health care… we need to fill the skilled midwives and health workers gap [in India]”.

UNFPA representative Dr. Marc Derveeuw said the multimedia campaign was a “powerful message for what needs to be done. In India positive images have a great impact… because of the legacy that has passed on through stories”.

Addressing the gathering, the Princess said she was “also a mother saved” who had survived a complicated third pregnancy because of family support and “excellent hospital” facilities. Talking about India where one woman dies every eight minutes due to pregnancy and childbirth-related complications, she said: “Women should be allowed to decide when and how many children they want to have.”

WRA co-chair Dr. Bulbul Sood said postpartum check-up of women was as important as antenatal care. “In terms of numbers, India is the largest contributor to global maternal death toll. It is important to talk about family planning since many girls get married at the age of 15 or 16 and the pressure to prove their fertility [at that age] is immense,” she added.

Stressing on “male motivation”, Dr. Derveeuw said: “Men have a role to play in safe motherhood.”

The Princess pointed out “the need to teach families about pregnancy emergencies…to ensure that women's reproductive health is a world reality”.

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