Direct Relief International is granting at least $100,000 to One Heart World-Wide (OHW) to launch a maternal and child health program in partnership with Qinghai University Hospital in Xining, China. The grant will help One Heart provide life-saving services to at-risk women and children in Tibet who have been devastated by the recent 6.9-earthquake that killed an estimated 2,000 people and damaged almost every structure.
“Our goal is to strengthen the web of care for Tibetan women and children by helping One Heart mobilize available resources and implement their high‐impact program throughout rural Qinghai,” said Direct Relief International President and CEO Thomas Tighe. “We’re pleased to take the lead funding role to support One Heart in China on this effort. We’ve worked with One Heart before, and their team has a history of implementing successful programs and saving lives.”
One Heart World-Wide is the only U.S.-based nongovernment, nonprofit organization chosen by the U.S. Ambassador to the People’s Republic of China to provide maternal and newborn care to the impoverished Yushu Region in Tibet’s Qinghai Province. As there is little or no access to transportation, medical facilities or trained health personnel, 100 out of every 100,000 pregnant women dies in childbirth and 20 out of every 1,000 newborns dies in infancy. Qinghai University Hospital provided on-site maternal care and some outreach to remote Tibetan communities for obstetrical emergencies before the earthquake. However, it is now faced with severely damaged facilities, depleted resources and few uninjured medical personnel. One Heart’s programs will address the core components of the local healthcare system that directly impact maternal and infant survival.
“Direct Relief International’s support enables us to rapidly implement a program that has been proven to work in this very fragile environment,” said Arlen Samen, executive director and CEO of One Heart World-Wide. “During our ten years in Tibet, we developed a replicable, sustainable model that saved the lives of thousands of pregnant women and newborn babies. We can now begin our work in China to do the same.”
Samen founded OHW in 1998 to work with disadvantaged communities to raise awareness and teach good birth practices. In the 10 years that the One Heart program was active in Tibet, the number of women who died in childbirth annually dropped from 33 to zero. One Heart recently relocated its corporate offices to San Francisco, Calif. and manages close to $1 million in donations to support maternal-child health programs in China, Mexico, and Nepal