Maternal World Health

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New estimates suggest that roughly 358,000 mothers die each year from complications during child birth, millions more suffer from pregnancy related illnesses and injuries, and in 2009, 8.1 million children died before their fifth birthday, nearly all from preventable or treatable causes. While some countries have made improvements in maternal and child health in recent years, there remains an enormous gap between the developed and developing world: sub-Saharan Africa’s child mortality rate is 24 times that of industrialized countries and women living in the poorest countries are nearly 300 times more likely to die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth than women living in industrialized countries.

The challenge

is not a lack of technology but a lack of access to technology. In the world’s poorest countries, access to basic life-saving interventions is inhibited by weak health systems that are characterized by shortages of health care workers, a lack of basic equipment, and inadequate infrastructure such as clinics and health facilities. Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 24% of the global burden of disease, has only 3% of the world’s health workforce.

While some of the resources mobilized in recent years for AIDS, TB, and malaria have addressed child and maternal health, there has not been a parallel investment in health systems, which are critical to sustain improvements in maternal and child health. Also, a lack of predictable financing makes it difficult for governments to plan for the long-term and invest in strengthening their health system – especially components like the health workforce, which have significant costs that recur from year to year.

The opportunity is Simple, cost-effective solutions to address maternal and child health exist, can be applied in developing country settings, and are cost-effective. Antenatal care such as iron supplementation and infection screening, skilled care during birth in the community and at facilities as well as basic postpartum and newborn care during the first few weeks of life can benefit mothers and babies, and can save lives.

Research indicates that if women had access to basic maternal health services, 80% of maternal deaths could be prevented. Vitamin A supplementation, which costs only $1.25 a day per child, could save over a quarter of a million young lives annually by reducing the risk and severity of diarrhea and infections. Additionally, investment in the health of mothers and children reaps widespread development returns that can benefit communities for generations to come. The survival and health of mothers is essential to the well-being of the entire family – children who lose their mothers are five times more likely to die in infancy that those who do not. Healthy children, meanwhile, are more likely to benefit from educational opportunities and grow into productive adults. For example, a 35% decrease in under-5 mortality in Bolivia was shown to increase primary school enrollment among eligible children by 30%.

Achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 would mean reducing child mortality rates by two-thirds, and maternal mortality rates by three-quarters by 2015, respectively. Although the world is off-track to meet these targets, with leadership and commitment from developing countries and the donor community, the health of mothers and children in the developing world can improve.”

From ONE.org

Women die needlessly from conditions that are easily treatable if trained staff were available!

If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

Quick Facts

The rate of maternal mortality has dropped only slightly, at an estimated 2.3% annual decline, since 1990. Differences in maternal mortality rates around the world reveal a large divide between the developed and developing world, where 99% of all maternal deaths occur. Women living in the poorest countries are nearly 300 times more likely to die from complications of pregnancy or childbirth than women living in industrialized countries.

Life-saving interventions and technologies exist for pregnant women, but millions do not have access to trained health care workers, appropriate medical equipment, and suitable facilities. Despite recent increased resources directed to specific diseases, some of which has benefited maternal health, there have not been similar scale investments in functioning supply chains, skilled health workers, and other health system components that are critical to sustaining improvements in supporting healthy mothers.

The Opportunity

Fortunately, the majority of maternal deaths and complications can be prevented by improving access to existing solutions: contraceptives to enable women to plan and space births, skilled care during labor, emergency obstetric care, and immediate postnatal care.

Good health begins before delivery; proper antenatal care for pregnant women–including nutritional support through programs such as iron supplementation and intermittent preventative treatment for malaria–help women stay healthy and prepare their bodies for childbirth. During delivery, skilled care attendants are needed to provide support and monitor and address common complications. Many maternal deaths occur in the first two days after labor, and postpartum care can help to keep mothers safe. Skilled attendants to deliver these interventions and care for mothers in the community and at facilities are critical to providing care throughout the pregnancy cycle.

Research shows that if women had access to basic maternal health services, 80% of maternal deaths could be prevented. The survival and health of mothers is essential to the well-being of the entire family – children who lose their mothers are five times more likely to die in infancy than those who do not. Additionally, investment in the health of mothers reaps widespread development returns that can benefit communities for generations to come.

Millennium Development Goal 5 is focused on improving maternal health. Specifically, the two targets for this goal are to reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio, and to achieve universal access to reproductive health. While progress is occurring at a much slower rate than what is needed to achieve these targets, increased leadership and commitment from developing countries and the donor community can help to improve the lives of mothers around the world.

Check out more at: http://www.one.org/c/us/issuebrief/3369/

ANOTHER RESOURCE:

Millennium Development Goal 5-Improving Maternal Health

TARGETS

1. Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio

2. Achieve, by 2015, universal access to reproductive health

QUICK FACTS

  • More than 358,000 women die annually from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, almost all of them —
  • 99 per cent — in developing countries
  • Approximately 30,000 children die each DAY from preventable and/or easily treatable diseases (like diarrhea, malnutrition, and simple respiratory illnesses.)
  • Between 70 and 80% of the world’s population lives outside the reach of health services (more than 4 hours from medical care or prohibited by economic barriers)One out of every 10 babies born in developing countries will not survive to the age of five (and those are the babies who survive childbirth!)
  • The maternal mortality rate is declining only slowly, even though the vast majority of deaths are avoidable.
  • Every year, more than 1 million children are left motherless. Children who have lost their mothers are up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely than those who have not.
  • Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates

Maternal mortality remains unacceptably high. New data show signs of progress in improving maternal health — the health of women during pregnancy and childbirth — with some countries achieving significant declines in maternal mortality ratios. But progress is still well short of the 5.5 per cent annual decline needed to meet the MDG target of reducing by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio by 2015.

Most maternal deaths could be avoided. More than 80 percent of maternal deaths are caused by haemorrhage, sepsis, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor and hypertensive diseases of pregnancy. Most of these deaths are preventable when there is access to adequate reproductive health services, equipment, supplies and skilled healthcare workers.

Check out more at: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/maternal.shtml

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