What We Are Doing

Save the Children Norway launches Birth of an Invoice 12 Feb 2015

In many countries around the world, women have to pay for the birth of their children and are sometimes forced to stay in the hospital till the money is arranged.

Save the Children Norway has launched a new campaign - "Birth of an Invoice". The aim of the campaign is to rally support, specially that of the Norwegian government - for the inclusion of free health care for mothers and infants in the new development agenda (SDGs).

By putting a price tag on a newborn, the campaign will try to open people's eyes to the fact that the high costs of giving birth and out-of-pocket-payments is costing the lives of mothers and infants in many parts of the world.

To make the point, Save the Children Norway has produced this film where a hidden camera captures the reactions of Norwegian midwifes when they are introduced to a "birthmeter" in the delivery room. In Norway, healthcare for mothers and infants is free of charge, but in the film the midwives are made to believe that mothers soon will be asked to pay for giving birth in Norwegian hospitals. Some of them reacts with disbelief, others with frustration or tears.

Watch the campaign film.

Check out the campaign website.

A story of injustice from Democratic Republic of Congo

Jean* (* name changed to protect identity), from the Democratic Republic of Congo, has recently given birth to a daughter and has not been able to leave the clinic - Cijiba Health Centre - because she cannot pay the fees for delivery. She has four children and this is the fifth one. Jean* was able to put aside funds for her previous births, but in this case she could not save any money and has not paid the clinic yet. Normally women who give birth only stay in the clinic for four days after delivery. Jean* has already stayed one day longer than normal because of her inability to pay.

“I don’t know how I’m going to pay for the delivery. If my husband doesn’t come back with any money I don’t know what I’m going to do. I walked 18km to the clinic to visit my mother who is ill. The day afterwards I had my baby”, says Jean* as she relates her trouble.

DRC is one of the worst countries in the world to be a mother or a child. There are five maternal deaths for every 1000 live births and over one in four children die before reaching their 5th birthday. In DRC it costs approx 7000 Congolese Francs ($7) to have a normal delivery in a hospital or clinic. Many mothers and families cannot raise this sum.

When this happens, women and their newborn babies must remain in the clinic until they can pay for the birth of their child. Malaria and other preventable diseases in DRC are very common. Health centres and clinics in DRC are often under staffed and under equipped. As there is widespread poverty in DRC, many people cannot afford medicines that are prescribed by hospital and clinics. Access to healthcare is also a problem. Many people have to walk for miles to reach their nearest clinic.

Birth of an Invoice aims to campaign and rally support for many women like Jean* - who not only have to deal with virtually no access to healthcare but also worry about the healthcare bills.