About Safe Labor International:
To decrease the maternal and infant mortality rate, as well as serious injury during labor to women in West Africa by
providing medical and infrastructural support to village hospitals and clinics and making knowledgeable labor support through
skilled birth attendants accessible.
Safe Labor International (SLI) is an organization that works to improve the labor environments and conditions of laboring
women in West Africa. SLI does this by 1) sourcing important, basic medical equipment in North America and Europe for use
in village hospital labor wards and clinics, and 2) performing important structural renovations within such hospitals and
clinics. Additionally, SLI will expand its reach in 2008 by placing skilled birth attendants and midwives from Canada in
remote villages to work with traditional midwives in order to share their training and birthing knowledge with the wisdom
of traditional delivery practitioners.
Mothers and babies die at an astounding rate in most African countries. Between 1 in 5 and 1 in 20 babies die during
labor or between labor and year one due to complications during labor. West African countries have the highest infant mortality
rates in the world. Sierra Leone and Liberia, for instance, have an infant mortality rate of 162 in 1,000—or to
put it more starkly, 1 in 6. To better understand this number, consider Canada and the U.S., where the numbers are less than
5 in 1,000.
Mothers have a 1 in 16 chance of during childbirth in Africa, and West African women have the highest rates of maternal
mortality during childbirth in Africa. According to the WHO, the rates range from 1,000 in 100,000 in countries such as Nigeria
and an astounding 1,800 in 100,000 in war ravaged countries like Sierra Leone.
Proper facilities and equipment contribute to significantly lowering the infant and maternal mortality rates in Africa.
Simple, inexpensive solutions can also significantly lower these high mortality rates. For instance, UNICEF poses that
clean delivery kits and sterile blades for cutting the umbilical cord, as well as immediate and consistent breastfeeding,
could cut the infant mortality rate in Africa by 70 per cent. Additionally, the presence of skilled birth attendants during
labor can greatly lessen the high rates of and serious injury to women during childbirth.
Rachel Zellars, MA, JD
Rachel holds a Master of Arts in African Studies from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School .
Rachel splits her time between West Africa and Montreal .
Jo is a knowledgeable, well-loved, local doula and head of the doula program at Alternative Naissance.
Funmi Daramola Ogunwuyi, MD
Funmi is a nephrologist specializing in liver disease, hypertension and obesity, and hails from a prominent family of
Nigerian doctors with a lifelong commitment to community healthcare in West Africa.
SLI finished renovating the labor ward at Mopa General Hospital in Kogi State, Nigeria last spring. The small room with
no running water was the only ward where women in the local and surrounding villages could receive urgent maternal care, including
C-sections. SLI renovated the room by installing running water, proper electricity and lighting, tiling for easy clean-up,
and proper screens on the windows to decrease the risk of malaria contraction during dusk and evening deliveries. In addition,
SLI provided the hospital with a large shipment of used and new medical equipment, including the hospital's first computer.
Currently, SLI is raising money to fund further renovation and donation projects in Nigeria, and also to institute its
Midwifery Program in Nigeria beginning this fall.