Here at Vitamin Angels, we have the amazing opportunity to speak to hundreds of women, children, and healthcare providers around the world about the life-changing impact our vitamins and minerals have on their lives and their greater communities. While the stories we hear are filled with hope and happiness for a brighter, healthier future, there is almost always an unsung hero standing in the background of each story - a nurse or midwife.
This year, the World Health Organization has declared 2020 the ‘Year of the Nurse and the Midwife’ in honor of their vital role in providing health services around the world. In some of the countries where we work, nurses and midwives are the first and only point of care within their communities. A majority frequently operate in remote villages with limited or no access to advanced medical technology, or even running water. Yet, each nurse and midwife we have met had the tenacity and will to overcome obstacles and provide the best care possible for their patients, specifically the mothers and children who would otherwise go unreached.
In Matayos, Kenya, our team had the privilege of meeting Florence, the only traditional birth attendant in her rural village, which was home to more than 7,000 women. Although her community sits miles away from the nearest hospital, Florence has delivered more babies than she can count. She guides women through labor using traditional techniques such as massaging the mother’s stomach to help position the baby for delivery and using a wild herb to help induce labor. When we asked about what it takes to be a traditional birth attendant, she shared, “I believe all TBAs must have a heart for their work.” It was evident that Florence had a passion for helping to bring hundreds of healthy babies into the world.
Vitamins Angels’ Founder and President, Howard Schiffer, can relate to Florence’s passion. Howard began his career working as a midwife in the early 1970s when women in the U.S. began taking charge of their birth decisions, and the home birth movement was in full swing. Now, having known midwives in the U.S. and around the world for nearly 50 years, Howard truly believes midwives are some of the most talented, compassionate, giving, and skilled professionals he has ever met. They can and do provide a unique level of prenatal care and a qualitatively different childbirth experience for the mothers they serve.
No matter where they are in the world, midwives and nurses are unsung heroes in their communities, and we are honored to celebrate their service to mothers everywhere throughout 2020.