Why do 800 mothers die every day – 1 every 2 minutes from preventable causes?


Nearly every maternal death is preventable, and the clinical expertise and technology needed to prevent these losses has been around for decades. Courtesy: Patrick Burnett/IPS
  • by Baher Kamal (Madrid)
  • Inter Press Service

Severe bleeding, high blood pressure, pregnancy-related infections, complications from unsafe abortion and underlying conditions that can be aggravated by pregnancy (such as HIV/AIDS and malaria) are the leading causes of maternal death, UN specialized bodies report.

“These are all largely preventable and treatable with access to quality and respectful health care.”

So why are these causes still not being prevented and treated?

In theory, eliminating maternal mortality should be achievable, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the global agency for sexual and reproductive health, declared on Feb. 23, which is just three weeks before International Women’s Day this year (March 8).

“Almost every maternal death is preventable, and the clinical expertise and technology needed to prevent these losses has been around for decades.”

“Then why do nearly 800 women still die every day from maternal causes? How can a woman die from pregnancy or childbirth every two minutes these days?”

Alarming setbacks

It’s a question that has only become more urgent with the release of the new report – based on estimates from the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and UNDESA/Population Division, showing that progress in ending preventable maternal deaths “is not just slowed down the last five years, but stagnated.”

The report reveals “alarming setbacks” for women’s health in recent years, as maternal deaths increased or stagnated in almost all parts of the world.

“While pregnancy should be a time of tremendous hope and a positive experience for all women, tragically it is still a shockingly dangerous experience for millions of people around the world who lack access to quality, respectful health care,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO).

“These new statistics show the urgent need to ensure that every woman and girl has access to critical health services before, during and after childbirth, and that they can fully exercise their reproductive rights.”

A miracle turned into a tragedy

“For millions of families, the miracle of childbirth is marred by the tragedy of maternal death,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell.

“No mother should fear for her life while delivering a baby, especially if the knowledge and tools are in place to manage common complications. Equality in health care gives every mother, no matter who they are or where they are, a fair chance for a safe delivery and a healthy future with their family.”

More poverty, more death

According to the report, total maternal deaths remain largely concentrated in the poorest parts of the world and in conflict-affected countries.

In 2020, about 70% of all maternal deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. In nine countries facing severe humanitarian crises, maternal mortality rates were more than double the world average (551 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to 223 globally).

Sharp inequalities

About a third of women do not even have four of the recommended eight prenatal checkups or receive essential postnatal care, while some 270 million women do not have access to modern family planning methods.

In addition, “disparities related to income, education, race or ethnicity increase risks for marginalized pregnant women, who are least likely to have access to essential maternity care but are most likely to have underlying health problems during pregnancy.”

unnecessary deaths

“It is unacceptable that so many women continue to die needlessly during pregnancy and childbirth. More than 280,000 deaths in one year is unconscionable,” said Dr. Natalia Kanem, UNFPA Executive Director.

“We can and must do better by urgently investing in family planning and filling the global shortage of 900,000 midwives so that every woman can receive the life-saving care she needs. We have the tools, knowledge and resources to end preventable maternal death; What we need now is political will.”

The report reveals that the world “needs to significantly accelerate progress to meet global maternal mortality reduction targets or risk the lives of more than one million women by 2030.”

Question: How much money is needed to end such gruesome deaths? Wouldn’t it be enough to dedicate what the world’s giant private companies gain in just one minute by selling weapons, speculating on oil, electricity and food prices, marketing artificial baby milk and much more, let alone technologies?

Is digitization more urgent?

There is one more question that needs to be answered: Why is it that, despite the findings mentioned above, the United Nations is now focusing on the need to ‘digitize’ women’s lives?

See what the UN is saying about International Women’s Day (March 8) this year, under the theme: DigitALL: Innovation and technology for gender equality:

“Our lives depend on strong technological integration: taking a course, calling loved ones, making a bank transaction or making a medical appointment. Everything is going digital at the moment.”

“However, 37% of women do not use the internet. 259 million fewer women have access to the internet than men, even though they make up almost half of the world’s population.”

The largest multilateral body in the world further explains that if women do not have access to the internet and do not feel safe online, they will not be able to develop the necessary digital skills to participate in digital spaces, which will affect their career prospects. in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) related fields.

And that by 2050, 75% of jobs will be related to STEM fields. “Yet women today occupy only 22% of positions in artificial intelligence, to name just one.”

WHERE: Women have traditionally been victims of all kinds of abuse, violence and targeted inequalities that have systematically left them far behind in all aspects of life.

Shouldn’t their indisputable right to the most basic health care – now and always – be a high priority on the global agenda?

© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service

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