Brown Button Foundation
Nigeria has a very high rate of maternal and newborn mortality. It is regarded as one of the highest in the world, according to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), with about 574 deaths recorded in every 100,000 births. This statistic makes up about 10% of the global burden of maternal deaths. The stat relating to child mortality is equally depressing. According to the Healthy Newborn Network, there are about thirty-three deaths in every 1,000 live births and forty-three stillbirths in 1,000 births. This is the worrisome stat that organizations such as the Brown Button Foundation are working hard to reverse.
Brown Button Foundation was founded by Adepeju Jaiyeoba in 2011, following the loss of a dear friend who died during childbirth. Since its establishment, the non-governmental organization (NGO) has been working to improve healthcare delivery in rural areas of Nigeria, specifically in the area of maternal and child health. A critical aspect of its strategy is to train and equip stakeholders like traditional birth attendants and community health workers in local maternity centres and other settings. With this it has been able to take its programmes and activities far and deep into many remote areas of the country, touching as well as saving the lives of thousands and thousands of mothers and newborns. The NGO targets low to middle-income communities where healthcare facilities are rarely available. Its activities have attracted praise and support locally and internationally.
Vision, Mission and Modus Operandi
Brown Button Foundation (BBF) focuses on training traditional birth attendants (TBAs), as well as community health workers, nurses, and matrons. It provides health education to pregnant women and encourages them to make healthy choices during pregnancy. It also educates the women about the importance of good nutrition during pregnancy, provides them with family planning and child spacing counseling, and advocates immunization for children under the age of two.
The vision of BBF is to “eradicate maternal and infant mortality in Nigeria and Africa through increased access to skilled healthcare services and personnel, as well as promote women’s sexual and reproductive rights by giving them the right and power to make choices.” Steadily, the foundation continues to equip more and more TBAs with the right training, skills, and supplies to deal more and more efficiently with their tasks.
To achieve its vision, the foundation formulated an action plan named ‘4-S’ action plan. This entails first, community service, next, healthcare service, then, referral service, and finally, justice support services. Through community service, the foundation educates rural communities about best practices in child delivery. It also sensitises them about health and nutrition choices they should make. The BBF also provides healthcare services in the form of critical materials and health tools that are important for safe maternity in rural communities. Its referral service entails creating a network of trained birth attendants who can help each other or be referred to others who may be able to help in areas of need. The justice support plan helps the foundation to influence government policies in a way that benefits pregnant women, nurses, community health workers and traditional birth attendants.
Sex education is another essential aspect of the BBF intervention. In collaboration with health workers in rural communities, it provides sexual health education on family options available on such matters as contraceptives, family size and child spacing. There is also a linkage system that it set up to address critical needs of maternal and child health. The linkage set up works as a process that enables the prompt sharing of health information of maternity patients with birth attendants of a higher cadre when there is a complication so that the life of the mother and her baby can be saved.
Maternal health tools and materials like mosquito treated nets, blood pressure monitors and silicon resuscitators are usually supplied to the TBAs to support their implementation of the programmes of the foundation. Other tools like fetal dopplers and portable ultrasound scanners are also supplied. Consistent training of other stakeholders like nurses, midwives, and health workers holds top place among the activities of the foundation. BBF believes the more these players in childbirth and maternity care know, the higher the chance they would perform optimally in their duties.
Mother’s Delivery Kit
As a by-product of the foundation’s work and vision, the mother’s delivery kit was formulated as a social enterprise product to help to solve some major challenges birth attendants in rural and traditional settings encounter. The kit contains life-saving supplies that are needed for safe delivery. Some of the kit’s contents include a birthing pad, sterilized delivery tools, and misoprostol, a medication used to stop bleeding during childbirth. The initiative has received funding in the form of seed capital (worth $25,000), grant (valued at $50,000) and mentorship services from the US-Africa Development Foundation (USADF) and a partnership with Citi Foundation.
These fundings have allowed the distribution of the kit to a large customer base in the northern parts of Nigeria, especially in Boko Haram-occupied territories. Aside from training over 500,000 women on safer birthing methods, the foundation has sold the kit to thousands of these women and birth attendants. Some of them now earn a commission reselling the kit to other women and places where the foundation is yet to reach. The kit is packed with the necessary information the birth attendants need to make critical decisions that could secure the safety of mother and baby. The kit also contains supplies needed to prevent infection and postpartum bleeding.
Today, through the mother’s delivery kit initiative, BBF has expanded its offering to the society by equipping and renovating dilapidated birth clinics and maternity centres. Women who assist in reselling the delivery kit earn a commission, which in a way provides them economic empowerment in addition to the skills and knowledge they gain from trainings. Under the Mother’s Delivery Kit initiative, the foundation has also created a digital portal to facilitate remote learning. This has significantly helped to expand the foundation’s reach and its ability to provide healthcare training quicker.
So far, it has been able to reach about 1 million women and their babies with sterile delivery kits, thereby helping significantly to reduce the rate of maternal and child mortality in Nigeria. The important work that the foundation is doing has been well-recognised by local and international health agencies and has no doubt provided many women and children life-saving facilities in the face of today’s prevailing high mother-child mortality rate in the country.
“Our Activities”. Mothers Delivery Kit. Accessed 10 July 2019.
“About Us”. Brown Button Foundation. Accessed 10 July 2019.
“Nigeria“. Healthy Newborn Network. Accessed 10 July 2019.