FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Melany Ethridge (972) 267-1111 [email protected] Or: Kate Etue (615) 481-8420 (m)
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Joining with Senator Bill Frist, MD’s Hope Through Healing Hands and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, several U.S. celebrity and faith-based moms joined together to support to the Faith-Based Coalition for Healthy Mothers and Children Worldwide, a campaign to improve global maternal and child health, including through education about healthy spacing and timing of pregnancies.
Hope Through Healing Hands (HTHH), a Nashville-based global health organization, recently partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to create the coalition. Some of the moms and parents joining the effort include Amy Grant, Grammy-winning Christian music artist; Kimberly Williams Paisley, actress and writer; Jennifer Nettles, Grammy-winning Country music artist; Tracie and Scott Hamilton, Olympic gold-medal ice skater and philanthropist; Jena Lee and James Nardella, Leaders of Blood:Water Mission and Lwala Community Alliance; Cathy Taylor, DrPH, MSN, RN, Dean and Professor of The Gorden E. Inman College of Health Sciences and Nursing at Belmont University; and Elizabeth Styffe, RN MN PHN and Global Director of HIV&AIDS and Orphan Care Initiatives at Saddleback Church.
“Those of us who have experienced healthy pregnancies here in the U.S. need to remember how uniquely fortunate we are,” Amy Grant said. “For the most part, we get to choose when and how we give birth, and we have all the health care we need before, during, and after delivery. In other parts of the world, the reality is tragically different. It is estimated that 1 in 39 pregnant women in Africa died in childbirth in 2013.”
“We believe children are a gift from the Lord, and every child deserves the opportunity to live a healthy life. If we can equip a mother with the knowledge of how better to time and space her children, she will be more likely to survive pregnancy and birth complications and the child will more likely survive the newborn stage,” says Elizabeth Styffe. “God wants us to live life in abundance, and we can take the first steps toward making this a reality for so many around the world.”
“Girls are often forced into marriage and pregnancy as young as age 12, and pregnancy and delivery are extremely hard on their bodies,” Jena Nardella explains. “Too many die from complications, and those who survive often never recover 100 percent. Yet many face continued pregnancies year after year, without being able to adequately care for their children. These adolescent girls are at much greater risk of HIV exposure which can affect their newborns, as well. As for the children, when pregnancies are not timed and spaced in a healthy way, many children don’t survive the newborn stage.”
“The cycle is devastating not only to families, but to entire countries and societies,” Senator Frist, M.D. noted, reflecting on his many trips overseas to provide medical care. “Women caught in this cycle often lose their opportunity to complete their education, which in turn limits their ability to do what they want most—to give their children an opportunity at a better life.”
“I believe this one issue – the healthy spacing and timing of pregnancies – could be a key to saving lives and economic empowerment in the developing world,” said HTHH Executive Director Jenny Dyer, Ph.D. “The good news is that we have the information and tools that can make this a reality. If a young woman in Africa can delay her first pregnancy until age 18 or later, she is dramatically more likely to stay in secondary school, and perhaps even attend college, providing stable financial support for her family to have a brighter future. Then, if she can space her pregnancies just three years apart, her children are twice as likely to survive infancy.”
Dyer continued. “There is great room for hope, and we are so delighted to have U.S. moms join us in this effort. They can uniquely empathize with women around the world who struggle with their pregnancies, who face risk of complications during childbirth, and who suffer deeply at the illness or loss of a child. By raising their voices here at home, these leaders are bringing about transformation for women far away.”
While celebrating motherhood here in the U.S., faith communities around the country are giving their time and energy to ensure motherhood is a joy for women globally, rather than the high-risk event it is for far too many.
Information about those who have joined the coalition to date, as well as how others can help is available at http://www.hopethroughhealinghands.com/faith-based-coalition. Endorsements for the coalition are available at http://www.hopethroughhealinghands.com/endorsements_1.
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Hope Through Healing Hands is a Nashville-based nonprofit 501(c)(3) whose mission is to promote improved quality of life for citizens and communities around the world using health as a currency for peace. Senator Bill Frist, M.D., is the founder and chair of the organization, and Jenny Eaton Dyer, Ph.D., is the CEO/Executive Director.