Family Centered Care for Himalayan Indigenous Communities

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The Pemako Health Initiative, a nonprofit that is part of the Healthy Birthing Project network, functions in a small area located in a region of the Himalayan Mountains in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, India. Kathy Morrow, a nurse midwife, founded the Pemako Health Initiative after developing compassion for the indigenous people in this extremely remote region when she witnessed their suffering during her first visit in 2009. There was no access to general healthcare, obstetrical care or emergency childbirth services. Children were dying from preventable infections and mothers were dying from post-partum hemorrhage. The infant mortality rate was 77 per 1,000 births and the maternal mortality rate was 400 per 100,000 births. The estimated life expectancy was 54 years and villagers were traveling up to four days to reach a hospital.

The Pemako Health Initiative was founded on the belief that every family has the fundamental right to have access to healthcare, clean water and a clean and safe birth experience. They are providing access to the most basic healthcare services and sanitation, with their primary focus to provide clean drinking water through Biosand water filters and to build latrines. Kathy works with the community to create sustainable, renewable, long-lasting change by working within preexisting community networks to build a foundation of community education and trust.

Kathy’s work builds momentum with every trip she takes. She impacts maternal and infant health by distributing Delivery Kits for laboring women and training healthcare workers. In the future she hopes to provide access to emergency obstetrical care, trained Birth Attendants, childhood immunizations, prenatal and postpartum care, and basic reproductive health and family planning needs. Kathy is helping to alleviate their suffering by planning to provide access to healthcare in a region where access to safe, loving maternal and infant care and community health are desperately needed.

To learn more about the Pemako Health Initiative, please visit:


Randi Powell

Global Force for Healing Intern

OHSU Senior Nursing Student

Nursing Students Without Borders




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