Maternal and Child Health

Health care for women and children is at the heart of United Methodist Women today, and has been since the organization was founded in the 1800’s. In 1869, Dr. Clara Swain was sent to Bareilly, India, to provide quality medical care to women. She has been called the "pioneer woman physician in India,” as well as the "first fully accredited woman physician ever sent out by any missionary society into any part of the non-Christian world."

Our foremothers made the choice to act to save women’s lives. They chose to build hospitals and clinics, to train women and girls to serve as doctors and nurses, and to send missionaries to initiate the work.

Today, United Methodist Women continues to support the health and family needs of women and children around the globe. Women are still dying in childbirth, children continue to die from preventable diseases, and many communities have no access to healthcare. From Latin America to Africa to Asia, United Methodist Women works with women worldwide to address:

  • Access to healthcare
  • Educational opportunities in medical fields
  • Child protection
  • Crisis ministries for women who are victims of violence at home or during periods of war and conflicts
  • Reproductive health – family planning, cancer screening, healthy childbirth
  • Advocacy for equity in law and services for women and children
  • Informal educational workshops on healthy living for teens at risk, lactating mothers who are HIV-positive, mothers who need new ideas on nutrition, and basic health, hygiene and disease prevention
  • Trauma and mental health counseling

In the U.S., a number of community centers in our network of national mission institutions provide maternal health services to improve access to care for underserved populations. Services include:

  • Pre-natal and postpartum care
  • Baby supplies
  • Parenting support
  • Shelter and legal services
  • Health care

Many of our deaconesses and home missioners live their calling to ministries of love, justice and service by working as health care professionals. They work as:

  • Parish nurses
  • Research nurses
  • Physicians
  • Community health directors
  • Volunteer coordinators