August 22, 2022

Merck for Mothers and Ole Kirk’s Fond support Maternity Foundation in ensuring safer childbirths in war-torn Ukraine.

Maternity Foundation has received substantial support from Merck for Mothers and Ole Kirk’s Fond to provide digital health tools to the Ukrainian frontline responders, paramedics, midwives and other healthcare workers who are providing care to women giving birth in war-torn Ukraine.  

With the new funds, Maternity Foundation will develop an emergency package tailored for the use in humanitarian settings to be included in the existing widely used digital tool, the Safe Delivery App. Through simple, intuitive animated instructions, the app provides guidance on how to handle the most common pregnancy and childbirth related complications, and the new emergency package is tailored for use in a humanitarian context.  

The content will be translated into Ukrainian language and launched in the fall of 2022 together with partners.  

Critical need to invest in maternal healthcare in Ukraine 

Over the next three months, more than 80,000 women in Ukraine are expected to give birth, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). That’s about 1,000 deliveries per week. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 15 percent of the pregnancies will require skilled medical care for a potentially life-threatening complication. 

Access to healthcare has been dramatically reduced after months of war, resulting in disruptions in critical services and an overburden health system in parts of the country. In addition, there have been multiple attacks on healthcare facilities.  

“Investing in maternal healthcare in Ukraine is extremely critical, and I’m deeply grateful to Merck for Mothers and Ole Kirk’s Fond for supporting our work to help ensure safer births for the many thousands of women expected to give birth in the country in the coming months and at the same time start looking into the longer term,” says Anna Frellsen, CEO Maternity Foundation.  

Digitals tool are vital, both during and after crisis 

Digital tools, such as the Safe Delivery App are ideal for deployment in emergencies as they quickly put clinical guidelines into the hands of healthcare workers. The app is free app, works offline and can reach healthcare workers everywhere, including those handling childbirths in war and conflicts areas.  

Maternity Foundation will integrate learnings from the emergency response in Ukraine into their broader work responding to maternal and newborn healthcare challenges in humanitarian crisis around the world.  

“We need to change the fact that the needs of woman and girls are often overlooked in humanitarian responses, and that healthcare providers are often forgotten when building a resilient and capacitated cadre that will provide care to women and newborns during crisis and in the aftermath. Maternity Foundation will work to ensure that maternal and newborn health does not become an afterthought in emergencies. Safe childbirths must be ensured, always,” says Anna Frellsen.  

Looking beyond the emergency response, the Safe Delivery App will continue to be a vital tool for healthcare workers in Ukraine. Most maternal and newborn deaths are preventable with access to skilled care during pregnancy and delivery. Quality care provided to women and mothers with newborns are therefore essential beyond the emergency response. The content of the new Ukrainian Safe Delivery App will stay relevant to healthcare workers beyond the current crisis and continue to contribute to their efforts in providing quality respectful maternal and newborn care. 

Exploring collaboration with partners  

While developing the Emergency Package in the Safe Delivery App in Ukrainian language, Maternity Foundation is in dialogue with key partners and stakeholders to ensure broad access to the Apps content in Ukraine.  

Global Medical Knowledge Alliance (GMKA) has been our key partner in producing the emergency package in Ukrainian and ensuring that frontline health care workers, such as paramedics have access to critical guidelines and instructions. Maternity Foundation is engaging, among others with UNFPA, and other partners to explore how to best reach and support the many healthcare workers in the country with essential training and instructions related to childbirth. 

More about the Safe Delivery App 

The Safe Delivery App is a professional job aid and a digital training and learning tool for midwives and other healthcare workers. So far, it has been downloaded more than 270,000 times. 

Maternity Foundation developed the app in collaboration with the Copenhagen University, the University of Southern Denmark and practicing midwifes. It was first launched in 2015, and it today part of Maternity Foundation’s wider Safe Delivery+ programme; a digital, modular learning and training platform. 

The app has research-proven impact, documented in several studies and publications.  

More about maternal mortality 

Every other minute, a woman dies during pregnancy or birth. Every sixth second, a newborn suffers the same fate. Most of the deaths happen in low-resource settings and the majority of them could be prevented if the women received quality care from a skilled healthcare worker.  

Women and girls are disproportionately disadvantaged in crises, and pregnant women and newborns are especially vulnerable during a humanitarian emergency. One in five women of childbearing age in crisis settings is likely to be pregnant, and over half of all maternal deaths occur in emergency or fragile settings.  

 About Maternity Foundation 

Maternity Foundation started out as a smaller Danish organisation in 2005 working in western Ethiopia. Today, it is an international NGO with offices in Ethiopia, India, and Denmark and partner engagements in 15 countries across Sub-Saharan Africa and South-East Asia.  

Maternity Foundation works to ensure safer births for women and newborns by building midwifery knowledge and skills among healthcare workers in low-resource areas. It uses life-saving digital health solutions and innovative learning programmes.  

So far, Maternity Foundation has reached more than 300,000 healthcare workers, trained more than 14,000 and its services are used in more than 40 countries.  


Helle Degn, Communications Manager in Maternity Foundation; 30561551