Zonta Whitsundays members Pammie Harrison, Wendy Downes, Mez Bowen and Marlene Reiffel, and (front) Proserpine State High School students Bella Taylor, 17, Portia Gorman, 16 and Ella Dray, 16 make up birthing kits to send to developing countries.
Zonta Whitsundays members Pammie Harrison, Wendy Downes, Mez Bowen and Marlene Reiffel, and (front) Proserpine State High School students Bella Taylor, 17, Portia Gorman, 16 and Ella Dray, 16 make up birthing kits to send to developing countries. Monique Preston

Zonta and students help save lives, one kit at a time

THE lives of women and their babies in developing countries are being saved by a Whitsunday service club and school students.

Zonta Whitsundays joined forces with Proserpine State High School Certificate III Early Childhood Education and Care students today to put together 500 birthing kit packs to be used by women in labour.

St Catherine's Catholic College also helped the club assemble 500 kits this week.

Zonta Whitsunday birthing kit co-ordinator Wendy Downes said the club had been putting together the kits since 2004 as part of the Birthing Kit Foundation of Australia.

"We're saving the lives of women and babies and hopefully making a difference," Mrs Downes said.

"They (the kits) make such a difference."

Each kit contains a plastic sheet for the mother to lie on, soap, latex gloves, three cords to tie the umbilical cord, a scalpel blade to cut the cord and five gauze squares.

Mrs Downes said the supplies helped reduce the risk of infection for women and their babies during childbirth in developing countries where the supplies were hard to source.

Birthing Kit Foundation of Australia statistics estimate that more than 300,000 women - mainly in developing countries - die each year in childbirth, often from preventable infections.

The statistics also show infections such as sepsis acquired during or directly after childbirth is the third-most likely cause of newborn and maternal death.

Having the clean birthing kits helps reduce that risk.

Each of the kits costs the Zonta club $5 to put together.

Proserpine State High School Certificate in Early Childhood Care teacher Jacqui McGrath said it was important for her students to help with the project.

"It makes them realise how hard some countries have it," she said.

"And it's important for the girls to learn how to contribute to the community.

"I think it gives them an awareness of what volunteer groups do."


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