According to a new report on maternal mortality rates released by the World Health Organization (WHO), every two minutes a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth, making it one of the leading causes of death for women around the world.
The report states that approximately 295,000 women die each year from these complications, with the majority of deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, expressed his concern over the findings of the report, saying, “No woman should die while giving life. Yet, tragically, hundreds of thousands of women are still losing their lives every year during pregnancy and childbirth.”
The report highlights the importance of access to quality maternal healthcare, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where the majority of maternal deaths occur.
It states that only about half of pregnant women in these countries receive the recommended amount of antenatal care, and only two-thirds give birth with the assistance of a skilled birth attendant.
Dr. Princess Nothemba Simelela, WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Family, Women, Children, and Adolescents, emphasized the need for investment in maternal health services, saying, “We know that most of these deaths could be prevented with the right care at the right time.
This means investing in quality maternal health services and ensuring that all women have access to them, no matter where they live.”
The report also highlights the disparities in maternal mortality rates between countries. While some countries have made significant progress in reducing maternal deaths, others have seen little or no improvement in recent years.
In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, the maternal mortality rate is about 542 deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to just 11 deaths per 100,000 live births in high-income countries.
The report calls for a concerted effort to address these disparities and reduce maternal mortality rates worldwide. It emphasises the need for greater investment in maternal health services, including antenatal care, skilled birth attendants, and emergency obstetric care. It also highlights the importance of addressing the underlying social and economic factors that contribute to maternal mortality, such as poverty, gender inequality, and lack of education.
Actions after the Report was released
In response to the report, several organisations have called for increased investment in maternal health services. The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) issued a statement calling for “urgent action” to address maternal mortality, stating that “every woman has the right to a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth.”
The International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) also issued a statement calling for increased investment in midwifery services, which play a critical role in providing safe and effective maternal healthcare.
“Midwives are the backbone of maternal healthcare,” said ICM President Franka Cadée. “Investing in midwifery not only saves lives, but it also contributes to stronger health systems and better outcomes for women and newborns.”
The report concludes with a call to action for governments, health organisations, and civil society to work together to reduce maternal mortality rates and ensure that every woman has access to quality maternal healthcare.
“The world has made great strides in reducing maternal mortality in recent years,” said Dr. Tedros. “But we still have a long way to go. We must redouble our efforts to ensure that every woman has access to the care she needs to give birth safely and with dignity.”
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