Maternal Mortality
Maternal mortality is a devastating cause of death for women around the world, especially those who live in low-resource communities or developing countries. Many conditions that cause maternal mortality are preventable. However, progress is occurring to save the lives of mothers and babies all over the globe.

Maternal Health Issues

The World Health Organization (WHO) has a commitment to reaching maternal health goals and improving healthcare systems. It is reaching towards this by working with partners to address inequality of access to healthcare, researching all possible causes of maternal deaths and providing clinical and programmatic guidance and more.

 The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is a global leader in solving maternal health issues. It has a commitment to improving maternal, newborn and child healthcare services. In fact, it has partnered with governments to help meet the needs of mothers and babies with country-specific plans. USAID has saved the lives of over 340,000 mothers. It also protects the life of the mothers’ babies after delivery with immunization and sanitation resources available.

Merck for Mothers, or MOMs, is a global initiative that focuses on creating a world where no woman dies while giving birth. MOMs boasts helping over 13 million mothers deliver their babies safely. In addition, it also supports over 100 strategic investments aimed at programs that help the cause. Its focus countries are India, Nigeria, Kenya and the United States. It also has a global corporate grants program supporting nongovernmental organizations worldwide.

MOMs in India

India has a high maternal mortality rate of 145 deaths for every 100,000 births (56 highest of 182 countries in January 2020). MOMs focuses on supporting programs that help struggling mothers in India use technology. One such partnership is with USAID, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other organizations that work with the Alliance for Savings Mothers and Newborns (ASMAN) to digitally monitor the health of mothers during labor and delivery.

ASMAN provides links to healthcare providers for a Safe Delivery App – a smartphone application that shows “up-to-date clinical guidelines on obstetric care and can be used as an immediate life-saving reference during complicated deliveries.”

Solving delivery complications requires quick thinking and action on the spot, which is a MOMs specialty. The initiative utilizes MOMs’ resources to enhance already existing solutions. It creates a “failing fast” learning method to quickly get hands-on experience that can save lives.

An Indian digital health company, Avegen, has also partnered with MOMs to help release a web-based platform to educate women about quality maternal care. It gives them the ability to rate the services they receive on a public platform for others to read. This gives women the power to educate themselves and choose an accessible healthcare provider that meets their needs. It also gives healthcare providers the feedback they need to improve the quality of care.

MOMs in Africa

Developing nations such as Nigeria are more susceptible to maternal mortality and other delivery complications because of poor healthcare systems. Nigerian women are around 500 times more likely to die during childbirth compared to the most advanced nations. Nigeria’s high level of maternal mortality comes from a multitude of factors such as poverty, food insecurity and low healthcare resources.

Nigeria had the fourth highest maternal mortality rate in the world of 182 countries ranked in January 2020. In 2021, Merck reported it as the highest.

In Nigeria, health conditions like diabetes and hypertension are on the rise. These health risks can be precursors to eclampsia/preeclampsia, a high cause of maternal death. MOMs has a dedication to locating indirect causes of maternal mortality such as malaria and cardiovascular disease by partnering with Nigerian healthcare initiatives to identify how to manage these risks.

MOMs is bringing unidentified maternal death statistics to light by collaborating with Africare and Nigeria Health Watch to support an advocacy program, “Giving Birth in Nigeria.” The program lets communities report otherwise unreported maternal deaths online. Many maternal deaths do not get reported because they do not happen in hospitals or do not receive confirmation. However, communities need to understand why women in certain areas are at risk and how their deaths can undergo prevention.

MOMs began partnering with LifeBank, a technological healthcare supply distribution system based in Nigeria. LifeBank aims to bring much-needed medical supplies to patients quickly with a multi-modal transportation network. It has saved the lives of over 10,000 people and served 676 hospitals, with a focus on providing blood and other medical supplies to mothers during childbirth.

Continuing Maternal Health Success

MOMs provides service around the world to help mothers before, during and after pregnancy survive and live a healthy life with their babies. Measures can sometimes prevent the loss of a woman to maternal mortality, especially in impoverished countries. MOMs and its partners have been working to ensure that healthcare systems are more efficient, that women are empowered to share their experiences and to ensure that healthcare workers are up-to-date on childbirth procedures.

– Julia Ditmar
Photo: Flickr