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Maternal Health

Because no women should die giving life - Saving Mothers

Maternal Health

image by: Phalinn Ooi

"In the 20th century, pregnancy and childbirth killed more than tuberculosis, suicide, traffic accidents and AIDS, combined.

Of all pregnancies anywhere, 15 percent will have a potentially fatal complication. In the developing world, having a baby will be the riskiest thing many women will do. Yet in half of all cases, mothers there deliver without any skilled attendant. Often, only their mother-in-law is present. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, a woman has a lifetime risk of 1 in 39 of dying from pregnancy-related complications.

Globally, an estimated 303,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2015. In Uganda alone (where the Save the Mothers program is based), some 6,000 women die a maternal death every year. (That is more than 200 times the number of women who die of the same sorts of complications in Canada, a country with roughly the same size population.)

One in four women who die during childbirth simply bleed to death. This can often be prevented by a medication that costs less than 99 cents.

The death of one mother often leaves a family of orphans. These children are more vulnerable to sickness and death. In addition, for every woman who dies in childbirth, about 20 women suffer injury, infection or disease – approximately 10 million women each year. Some develop a fistula, a tear in the bladder or rectum or birth canal that leaves them incontinent: they are women who will be thrown out of their families and villages, like lepers.

Mothers in developing nations are dying due to one of three deadly delays. The first delay is in the decision to seek care, the second is the delay in reaching the appropriate medical facilities and the final delay in care is at the health care system itself.

The first deadly delay, in seeking care, is influenced by many things. A woman may not be able to seek care on her own, but may have to wait for her husband or mother-in-law to allow her to do so. The woman and her family may not recognize a serious problem until it is too late. There may also be cultural expectations and prejudices. For example, in some cultures, women who don’t deliver naturally are seen as failures.

The second deadly delay, to reach the appropriate facility in time, results from a lack of transportation. There may be no vehicle available, or roads may be washed out by strong rains.

The final deadly delay in care, at the health centre, is often a result of no medical staff being available. The centre’s pharmacy may be empty or there may be no blood ready for an emergency transfusion. Any of these situations can also cause a mother’s death."

Source: Excerpt from SavetheMothers.org