“These women will not be afterthoughts. They cannot be, because, as the title of the book says, tomorrow needs them”. – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 5.03.37 PM

In honor of International Women’s Day on March 8th and in recognition of the plight of women around the world, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), has launched Because Tomorrow Needs Her, a powerful multimedia project that highlights the fight to save women’s lives around the world by improving access to health care. MSF has been one of the leading international medical humanitarian organizations since its founding in 1971 and their work and dedication to helping the world’s most vulnerable people has been incredible.

Through the use of beautiful photography and intimate storytelling, Because Tomorrow Needs Her bears witness to the cultural, political and economical barriers that women and girls face in seeking access to essential, life-saving medical care in the areas that MSF works around the world.

“Bullets are often fired over the clinic but we have no plans to stop providing a space for women’s health” – Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Because Tomorrow Needs Her.

Intimately documented in seven chapters, Because Tomorrow Needs Her is a collection of first-hand stories of MSF doctors and caregivers trying to save women’s lives in the developing world. Combined with the gorgeous photography and videography of world-renown photographers Martina Bacigalupo, Patrick Farrell, Kate Geraghty and Sydelle Willow Smith, Because Tomorrow Needs Her highlights the challenges, successes and work that still needs to be done in women’s health in such far-reaching places as Burundi, Haiti, Malawi, Afghanistan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, a few of many places MSF works.

99% of all maternal deaths are in developing countries. Photo credit/Copyright: Martina Bacigalupo/VU

Copyright: Martina Bacigalupo/VU

Although there has been significant progress in women’s health around the world (Per WHO, between 1990-2010 there has been a 45% drop in maternal mortality worldwide), 800 women die every singe day due to pregnancy-related causes and almost all of these deaths are preventable. MSF argues that deaths like these are happening needlessly, with horrifying frequency every single day and they can be prevented by simple, inexpensive interventions carried out by trained health staff.

As the 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) draw to a close and new goals are being set for the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), MSF draws on the momentum of the progress that has been made by launching Because Tomorrow Needs Her as a call to action to end preventable deaths and improve the lives of women and girls  around the world.

Each one of the seven online chapters is focused on a specific issue ranging from complications from labor and delivery to the unique health challenges that women face beyond childbirth in the areas of post-natal care, obstetric fistula, unsafe abortion, sexual violence, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV.

80% of all maternal deaths are due to five complications.  Photo credit: Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)

80% of all maternal deaths are due to five complications: hemorrhage, sepsis, hypertensive disorders, unsafe abortion and obstructed labor. Photo credit/Copyright: Martina Bacigalupo/VU

One of the stories that resonated most with me was in the first chapter of Because Tomorrow Needs Her: The story of 16-year-old Mariama form Sierra Leone, a country that has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Mariama lived days away from the nearest hospital and like many girls who are young, and not fully ready to bear a child, she had complications with obstructed labor. Like half of the women and girls in the developing world, Mariama tried to deliver at home without the help of a skilled birth attendant. After three days of labor, her family realized that the situation was grave. Mariama had to go to a hospital in order to save her and her baby’s life.

It took one whole day trying to get Mariama to a hospital, and she arrived pale and bleeding. She barely survived, and her baby was delivered via cesarean section dead. After the tragedy, Mariama suffered a fistula, which impacts up to an estimated 50,000-100,000 women every year. Fistulas left untreated are a shameful condition and women living with fistula are often relegated to a life as an outcast, living in shame, embarrassment and neglect. Thankfully, Mariama was at a medical facility where they were able to perform the surgery to correct her fistula, once again changing her life. But thousands of women around the world are not so fortunate.

Copyright: Sydelle WIllow Smith

Edna Maulana holds her child, who was born HIV-free after she went through the PMTCT program in Thyolo. Copyright: Sydelle Willow Smith

Because Tomorrow Needs Her is an urgent call to action to not forget these women and girls around the world who are dying needlessly due to preventable causes. We have the technology and resources to dramatically change their lives. Tomorrow Need Her.

This post was written thanks to the information provided to me by Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). All photos are used with permission. 

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is a medical humanitarian organization that works in roughly 70 countries to treat people who have been affected by conflict, natural disasters, disease, epidemics, severe privation, and long-term neglect. At root, our mission is to provide lifesaving medical care to those who cannot otherwise access to it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.