In Bolivian lowland villages, many women must make long and difficult journeys to seek skilled care. Some indigenous villages are hours away by boat from the nearest health clinic; transportation by road is often inconvenient and barely affordable during the best of times, and nearly impossible during the rainy season when flood waters cut off roads. When women do access care at health facilities, they may find the care culturally unacceptable, potentially deterring them from making the journey to seek care again.

The FCI Program of MSH works to improve indigenous women's access to maternal health services in Pando and Beni, Bolivia, by working with the Ministry of Health, health providers, and indigenous communities to develop standards for intercultural maternal health care. These standards guide health facilities on how to adapt services to more culturally appropriate practices.

As a result of advocacy efforts led by the indigenous community, and the FCI Program of MSH, Bolivian legislation now supports the establishment of maternity waiting homes next to rural hospitals, so pregnant women at risk can immediately access skilled childbirth care when they go into labor.

With support from the Izumi Foundation, the FCI Program of MSH brought together several community-based indigenous organizations in Moxos, district of Beni, to renovate and open three maternity waiting homes. The FCI Program of MSH builds the capacity of health promoters to inform women in their communities about the maternity homes, and encourages health providers, particularly those in the most remote health outposts, to refer pregnant women at risk to these homes. As the maternity waiting homes must be fully incorporated in the health network and the municipal budget, the FCI Program of MSH also works with partners to develop draft regulations for the operation of maternity waiting homes.

Our Projects

Project Name Health Systems Health Areas Date
Intercultural Maternal Health Care in Bolivia
FCI Program of MSH FCI Program of MSH 2011 - 2017
Overcoming Barriers to Care: Improving indigenous women's access to maternity services in the Bolivian Amazon
FCI Program of MSH FCI Program of MSH 2015 - 2017

Country Team