Women and Children


women die every year from an unsafe abortion


women die every year from complications during pregnancy or childbirth


million children die every year from illnesses that could be treated


Many of the world’s women and children are vulnerable. Some, unable to feed themselves properly, suffer from nutrition deficiencies, others’ lives are endangered because medical care is unavailable, inaccessible or unaffordable and still others’ sexual identities condemn them to a life of exclusion and abuse. And, of course, countless women don’t have control over their own bodies and can’t choose if and when they want to bear children.

  • Programme Santé sexuelle et reproductive pour les femmes au Laos © Lam Duc Hien

    Vichara, aged 32

    “I live near Mekong, in the countryside. I already have 3 children, who were all born at home with the help of a birth attendant. After giving birth, we do You-Fai. It’s a purification ritual, which means I have to shut myself away with my baby and obey certain rules. I’m pregnant with my fourth child and I have pains in my stomach. But the health centre is 8 kilometres from here, so I have to take the tak-tak. It’s a tractor and it bumps around too much.”

  • Imran, Pakistan

    Imran, aged 1

    “Imran and his family come from Orakzai Agency in KPK province where the Pakistani army is fighting the Taliban. They fled from the military operations to Punjab and 20 people now share a one-room shack in poor hygiene conditions. The father is the only one able to provide for his family but he’s too weak to work. The whole family has health problems. Imran is very sick and very thin. He’s undernourished and he also suffers from acute diarrhoea.

  • Claudio

    Claudio, aged 3

    “Right after Claudio was born we noticed his skin had a bluish tinge. When he fed he got tired really quickly. He couldn’t suck for very long and he wasn’t gaining enough weight. After several months we were really worried about his health but the traditional healer couldn’t find anything wrong with him. So we took him to Antananarivo, the capital. They did some tests and he has heart disease. Claudio’s should have an operation to make him better, but the procedure is really complex.”

  • Michaela, Haïti

    Michaela, aged 15

    When I realised I was pregnant I panicked.  I’m too young to be a mother. I didn’t know what to do so I asked my friend for advice. She told me to buy ulcer medication to get rid of the baby. It meant taking several pills with energy drinks and I was also supposed to put some in my vagina. As soon as I started to bleed, I went to the hospital. Now I’m scared I’ll never be able to have children.”

  • Ruth, Congo

    Ruth, aged 20

    “My husband had gone to work in the fields when four soldiers burst into my house. I was with my daughter who’s six getting the meal ready.  One of the soldiers threated to kill her if I didn’t let them do what they wanted to me. So, one after the other they raped me, in front of my daughter who was crying. It hurt so much I couldn’t walk. When my husband found out what had happened, he was ashamed and he left me. Now I’m all alone and disabled and I have my children to feed.”

What we do

Enable women to take informed decisions about their own lives

Doctors of the World advocates for the right of women to take informed decisions about their own bodies, to bear children, to decide how many and the space between births. All women should be afforded access to the latest methods of contraception and legal and safe abortion.

Doctors of the World organises advocacy initiatives in all those countries where these rights do not exist. In Colombia as in DRC, we campaign to promote access to healthcare for women and children by tackling geographical, financial and socio-cultural barriers.

Supporting pregnant women

Whether in Burkina Faso or in Peru, Doctors of the World works to improve the health of women and couples. Our teams offer reproductive health services, which include contraception, voluntary termination and screening for sexually transmitted diseases. Families are also given advice about the risks of mother-to-child transmission of HIV/AIDS.


To reduce maternal mortality, we strive for quality care during pregnancy and childbirth. To achieve this, we train local health workers and set up mobile clinics to deliver medical care to patients living in remote areas.

Every woman should have access to contraception and legal and safe abortion.  

Healthcare for children

Every year millions of children die from avoidable causes such as malnutrition, treatable diseases and lack of vaccination so we do our utmost to ensure babies and young children receive medical care in Doctors of the World centres or other existing facilities. For example, children suffering from malnutrition in Mali, Burkina Faso are provided with treatment and prevention and awareness-raising programmes are organised for families. Doctors of the World teams also see in its healthcare and advice clinics in France many families with children whose vaccinations are rarely up to date.

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