The Zonta Club of Batavia is making birthing kits to send to Third World countries in an effort to reduce the risk of infection in pregnant women and their babies.
On Saturday, 20 Zonta Club members and Batavia High School Z Club members spent four hours putting together 1,085 birthing kits. The kits are composed of a square meter of plastic sheet, two umbilical cord clamps, five pieces of gauze, a pair of vinyl gloves, a small bar of soap and a razor blade. All of the contents are packed into a quart-size sandwich bag and sent to a holding facility in Pittsburgh.
(Photo of Lee Cummings)
"We were talking and, here, everyone wants to get the birthing suite at the hospital and that's our biggest concern," said Lee Cummings, chairperson of the Birthing Kit Committee and Zonta Board member. "There, women literally get a plastic bag with six items in it to give birth and reduce the rate of infection in these countries."
The kits are shipped to clinics in impoverished countries to help women who don't have access to medical facilities. The kits have been sent to rural areas in Kenya, South America and there are now recent requests from Nepal. Women walk for miles to reach clinics where the kits are given out. Due to limited resources, hospitals and clinics have also started to use the kits in their facilities.
Zonta is an international organization for the advancement and empowerment of women. The Birthing Kit Project was developed by Zonta's international governor six years ago.
The Batavia club started the district project five years ago. Over the years, the local club has assembled and sent three large shipments totaling 3,700 birthing kits. Every spring, the club collects items for the kits and assembles them. They also make a smaller amount of kits every autumn as well.
"Our goal started out years ago as 500 kits, and then it was 750, and now it's 1,000," Cummings said. "We try to do a 1,000 a year."
The project is a community-wide effort. The club gets most of the supplies for the kit from United Memorial Medical Center. The hospital donated umbilical cord clamps, gauze, vinyl gloves and razor blades. Local hotels also donated bars of soap. In past years, local doctor offices have sent checks to help with the cost of shipping.
Shipping costs to send the kits to those who need them most is a significant expense for the club, approximately $400 to $500, according to Cummings. The club is also pays for the plastic sheeting, which costs hundreds of dollars as well.
By 2016, the group plans to make 1,000 more kits to fulfill their two-year goal of 2,000 kits. The club is in the process of planning a date to use the rest of the supplies they have collected and make more kits. They plan to put together another 400 kits for Fall 2016.