Intercultural Maternal Health Care in Bolivia

Project Overview

The FCI Program of MSH continues Family Care International's years of work to improve indigenous women's access to maternal health services in Pando and Beni, Bolivia, by adapting services to more culturally appropriate practices.

With technical guidance from FCI, the Hospital 3 de Noviembre in San Ignacio de Moxos, Beni, culturally adapted its birthing rooms (salas de pre-parto) by installing hammocks. The hospital adopted new protocols that guarantee the presence of a companion during the perinatal period and discourages health workers from providing routine enemas and shaving. The hospital also provides new hospital gowns with no openings.

In Puerto Rico, Pando, FCI refurbished an empty building and equipped it for use as a maternity waiting home near the main district hospital. Women near full-term pregnancy from remote and indigenous communities stay at the maternity home so they can go to the hospital when they go into labor. The project strengthened system of referrals from local health providers to hospitals and promoted increased use of maternal health services in Pando.

Indigenous organizations have taken up maternal health issues, advocating within their communities, and externally with other partners, so that everyone is jointly responsible for contributing to the health of pregnant women in their communities and preventing maternal death and illness.

In 2014, Bolivia's Ministry of Health invited FCI and indigenous women leaders, a result of FCI's advocacy, to participate in the validation of the national maternity waiting home norm. After validation, the Ministry of Health approved the maternity waiting norm.

The FCI Program of MSH continues to work with UNFPA and Ministries of Health in the Andean Region to develop regional intercultural maternal health standards of care, which incorporate 17 standards for adapting maternal health services for indigenous populations. Bolivia, Ecuador, and Panama are now adapting and implementing these standards.

In late 2015, programs and staff of Family Care International became part of MSH. The FCI Program of MSH carries on FCI's work to advance strategies that strengthen intercultural and respectful care in Latin America and the Caribbean.

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