“We need to move and now. We should not lose any time,” instructed the mentor midwife to her team of a driver and a Community Linkage Officer (CLO).

The team was on its way to rescue Mary, a mother of seven, now in labor with her eighth child. Mary had previously given birth to some of her children with the aid of family members and a local birth attendant. Although the local birth attendant tried to convince Mary to go to a health facility this time, Mary remained confident that she would give birth at home as she had done before.

When the local birth attendant realized that the case was complicated, she sent Mary away. Mary then contacted the Village Health Team (VHT) member, Joseph, to express her concerns. Joseph sent a text message to the CLO, Lonard, who acts as a liaison between the community and the local health officers. Recognizing Joseph's phone number, Lonard returned the call immediately.

“I was suspicious when I saw the text message. In my mind, I knew, something was wrong,” said Lonard. “Joseph never sent a text at nearly midnight. Many times we talked during the day, but this was a unique message given the time,” he added.

Lonard, Joseph and the mentor midwife linked up and together went to rescue Mary. Shortly after they picked Mary up in the pickup truck, she delivered, with the help of the midwife, even before they could reach the health facility. Upon arrival at the health facility, health workers examined Mary carefully, checked for bleeding and anemia and felt her uterus. She received vitamin A and other medicines. Follow-up visits were also made by the CLOs, the mentor midwife and a team of doctors from the facility to ensure that infection exposure to both the child and the mother were managed.

Today, Mary and her child are safe and healthy.

The interventions described in this story are part of the Saving Mothers, Giving Life effort to strengthen local health capacity to meet the maternal and child health needs. Over 150 health workers, critical equipment, and maternity kits have been provided to 80 health facilities so that mothers can more easily access quality antenatal, delivery and post natal services.

Because of these capacity-building measures, the staff and equipment that the facilities now have in place, and the streamlined organization of the community VHT and CLO, Mary's rescue went smoothly, and she was able to deliver her baby safely.