- ‘For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.’
More than 350,000 women die annually from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, 99 per cent in developing countries.
Target 1: Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio.
Target 2: Achieve universal access to reproductive health.
South Africa Struggles With Maternal Health
For a middle income country, South Africa’s maternal mortality figures are shockingly low, according to new research by BMC Health Services. Despite over 90% of women utilising health services, the mortality rate is 625 per 100,000 births. The problem is particularly bad in poor and rural areas. Let’s pray that the government manages to turn around the situation and that MDG5 is achieved in time.
No Woman Should Die Giving Birth
This film by Amnesty International exposes the shocking truth about maternal mortality in Sierra Leone, where 1 in 8 women die giving birth (as opposed to 1 in 4,000 in the developing world). The film explores typical issues such as delayed medical care, lack of hospital access and adequate treatment, and misconceptions from the general community. In the absence of government action, it highlights the invaluable work being carried out by community-led schemes and centres, where women often work full-time with no hope of salary or compensation.
Pakistan Pioneers Family Planning Project
A new family planning project making contraceptives easily available in Pakistan is playing a significant role in reducing maternal mortality rates. The project, implemented by Falah (Family Advancement For Life and Health), is allowing families to space births better and so improve the health of the pregnant women. To read more about the scheme, click here.
Papua New Guinea’s Maternal Mortality Crisis
Despite a global decline in maternal mortality rates worldwide, new statistics have revealed a shocking doubling of the rates over the last 10 years in Papua New Guinea – in 2006, the rate was 733 deaths to every 100,000 live births. IPS news investigates the reasons and solutions for this catastrophe. Please join us in praying for the women of Papua New Guinea, that childbirth need not represent danger or fear.
Political Instability in Africa Threatens Maternal Health
One of the major barriers to achieving MDG5 in Africa is the political instability still faced by many war-torn and recovering countries, according to a new IPS report. Due to the impacts maternal mortality has on children’s health, education, and the entire family complex, this is leaving countries struggling to achieve the most basic MDGs. IPS is urging stronger governmental focus on maternal mortality in order to strengthen communities and standard of life.
Slow Progress in Africa’s maternal health
This newspaper article from Al Jazeera highlights some of the many problems still evident in maternal healthcare in many African countries. Nonetheless, women are calling on governments to improve their situations – watch the video about a Ugandan court case to hear an inspiring victory tale.
Take Action Against Maternal Mortality in Burkina Faso
Click here to support expectant mothers in Burkina Faso by filling out Amnesty International’s petition. They are calling on the government to fully subsidise obstetric care, of which currently they only pay 80% - the remaining 20% is still often too expensive for poorer women to pay. (the petition is in French, but can filled out by anyone!)
UN Commission on the Status of Women
The 56th session of the UN Commission of the Status of Women (CSW) runs from 27th Feb to 9th March this year. The primary theme this year is ‘The empowerment of rural women and their role in poverty and hunger eradication, development and current challenges’. To view CSW’s website and access information about history, mandate, and resources, click here.
If Women Ruled the World?
The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Switzerland from 25th-29th January has devoted an entire plenary session to the need for more women leaders throughout the world. Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra stressed the importance of education if this is to be achieved. Archbishop Desmond Tutu was also in attendance to add his support to the proposal. Asked what would happen if women ruled the world, Tutu responded, “Men have tried to rule the world for centuries, and they have made a mess. Let’s let the other half try.” For more information, click here.
Kenyan MPs focus on maternal health
Kenyan MPs have pledged to fight for improvements in prenatal care and maternal health throughout a meeting entitled ‘Parliamentary Retreat on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health’, which was jointly hosted by the Kenyan Parliament and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The country has long struggled to meet standards for MDG5, with the lifetime risk of maternal death in 2008 being an appalling 1 in 39. However, the government is committed to providing better healthcare and more trained professionals, in line with UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women and Children’s Health by East African Countries. To read more about the state of affairs in Kenya, and to find out how other East African countries are tackling MDG5, click here.
Encouraging Progress for Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea has significantly reduced maternal mortality throughout the entire country, and is on track to achieve MDG5 along with seven other African countries, according to a new report by the World Health Organisation. Read more about it here: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/equatorial-guinea-reduces-maternal-mortality-2011-09-09
Innovative Approaches for Improving Maternal Health
The UN Secretary General's Every Woman, Every Child Innovation Working Group is developing new, creative strategies in order to improve women's and children's health. Read more about their ideas: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-09/unf-it090911.php