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"Safe and Sound" Brings Maternal Health Into Focus


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Family Planning International held their inaugural "Safe and Sound" concert last night, October 22, at the San Francisco Bathhouse in Wellington. Musicians united to raise awareness about maternal health in the Pacific.


"We've just started a campaign on (maternal health) this year," explains Joanna Spratt, Director of International Development at Family Planning International. "It's one of the areas, globally, that countries aren't doing so well on."


In the Pacific region Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia report high rates of maternal deaths. It is estimated that five women die every day from preventable birth related complications.


"It really is our neighbourhood," says Spratt. "The five women a day dying, everyone's just been blown away by that -- and the fact that no one knows about it. It's preventable as well, which adds insult to injury."


Though Family Planning International has worked to provide expectant mothers in the Pacific with access to pertinent prenatal and postnatal information, many countries still require more support.


Young mothers in various areas can be highly stigmatised, Spratt says, and may be afraid to seek out additional information or assistance from a Family Planning International clinic in their region. Distance and accessibility are also issues. A clinic with skilled birthing attendants and emergency services may seem an essential right to an expectant mother, but oftentimes such a facility is just beyond reach.


Family Planning International hopes to expand aid through the Pacific to areas that report high rates of maternal deaths. Proceeds from "Safe and Sound" will go to furthering this cause and raising awareness about maternal health throughout New Zealand.


"It's pretty shocking," said musician Iva Lamkum referring to the statistics about maternal deaths. "You don't really hear about (maternal deaths) in everyday life. I'm happy to help with this cause, and to help keep this from happening."


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Concert participant Iva Lamkum


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"Safe and Sound" concert participant Bella Kalolo

Lamkum performed Thursday evening along with fellow kiwi musicians Jess Chambers, Lisa Tomlins, Bella Kalolo, Tessa Rain and DJ Ayesha.


Lisa Tomlins is credited with helping co-ordinate the participation of many of the artists involved with "Safe and Sound".


"Lisa Tomlins has been pivotal." Spratt asserts. "She got in touch with other musicians and really inspired them to come on board."


A raffle at the event boasted numerous donated prizes from local retailers.


Concert attendees had the chance to win gift packages from Havana Coffeeworks, bags from Zowie Dee, vouchers from Trade Aid and Starfish Clothing, a Family Planning pleasure pack, as well as jewellery donated by Miss Fancy Pants.


"Everybody has just been so generous with their time and their resources." Says Spratt, who is encouraged by the outpouring of support in Wellington. Additional "Safe and Sound" concerts are a possibility, though no details have been released yet.


Spratt is confident that the pervasive nature of the issue will ignite the public's responsiveness.


"Everybody knows a mother -- your sister might be a mum, your friend might be a mum, you've got a mum," the issue of maternal health, she says, "Really touches everybody."

For more information about "Safe and Sound" and maternal health please visit Family Planning International at the following website: http://www.fpi.org.nz/

ENDS

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