Friday, September 19, 2008

Why Isn't There More Attention Given to Maternal Mortality?

*HALF A MILLION* women this year will die as a result of pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications. While we moms fortunate enough to live in developed countries face a lifetime risk of maternal death of around 1 in 8,000, those in developing world face a risk of 1 in 76. In the worst countries of sub-Saharan Africa, the rate is a jaw-dropping 1 in 7. The majority of these moms die because they lack access to skilled birth attendants, proper pre- and post-natal care, and emergency obstetrical care.

Noting that the global epidemics of HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis now receive lots of international attention and billions of dollars in funding, UNICEF's chief of health Peter Salama called for a similar effort for reducing maternal mortality:

"The time is right. We now know exactly what to do for maternal mortality reduction to make this one of the next big issues in global health."

I can't help but wonder how much racism plays a role in the neglect of attention paid to the problem of maternal mortality. 99% of the maternal deaths occur in the Third World, with over half occurring in sub-Saharan Africa.

I don't mean to belittle breast cancer activism, but that disease claims around the same number of women annually (the World Health Organization estimates there were 548,000 deaths from breast cancer worldwide in 2007) yet it receives far more attention than maternal mortality does. When's the last time you saw a pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness? When's the last time that you heard anyone talking about all the moms dying needlessly during pregnancy or childbirth?

1 comment:

Kamla said...

It is an interesting post.

I thought that you would be interested in learning about the good work of India’s NTR Memorial Trust.

India’s NTR Memorial Trust’s has set a global benchmark in 257 Andhra Pradesh villages in maternal mortality. Eminent people like M Rama Babu IAS (retd), G.Suryanarayana and T Venkateswara Rao are impressed that UN Millennium Goals have been surpassed in less than two years of the launch of Thalli Bidda Samrakashana Padhakam. The programme, providing end-to-end healthcare services free of cost to rural pregnant woman, is being run in association with four leading medical institutions.

The distinction has been achieved by minimising the maternal deaths to two in 15,000 deliveries in 257 villages. This was achieved in the shortest possible time of 24 months between December 2006 and December 2008.

The programme is being run in association with four leading medical institutions in Andhra Pradesh: Mediciti in Medak, Dr Pinnamaneni Siddartha Institute of Medical Sciences at Chinaowkapalli in Krishna district, NRI Medical College at Mangalagiri in Guntur district and GSL Medical College, General Hospital in East Godavari district.