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Midwives_in_Chiapas

Maternal mortality rates in Mexico have steadily decreased over the past fifteen years. The global maternal mortality rate has decreased by nearly 50 percent between 1990 and 2013. However, the work is far from over.

Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths happen in underdeveloped countries according to the World Health Organization. Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico with a poverty level at over 76 percent.

Maternal mortality rates can be significantly lowered with skilled care and supervision throughout the childbirth and traditional birth attendants are being trained to offer this care through workshops and programs in Chiapas.

Traditional midwives are extremely important in communities within Chiapas because of the negative connotation that comes with hospitals and the hesitation that women have toward giving birth in hospitals. Fifty-five or more out of every 100,000 women die in Chiapas during childbirth.

The traditional midwives are receiving training for problems that arise during obstetric emergencies. Understanding the protocol will allow them to act quickly in situations that may cost the mother’s life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCuE8Y0d8sk

One such organization is the Global Pediatric Alliance. The alliance has started a training program for midwives in Chiapas. They have programs in four different municipalities in Chiapas. Los Altos de Chiapas is the first community and 88 percent of the population is poor. Fifty-six percent of the population lives in extreme poverty.

The plan is to train at least 120 Tzeltal and Tzotzil-speaking midwives between 2014 and 2017. An estimated 100,000 people will be impacted by the project. The second municipality is Las Margaritas, a highly marginalized area with extremely low Human Development Index rankings.

The isolated communities in the area particularly suffer from the lack of care adequate obstetric care. The program with GPA has already held five trainings for 29 traditional birth attendants in the area.

The training of midwives is changing the maternal mortality rates and the risks of home births in Chiapas.

Iona Brannon

Sources: Arizona State University, Global Pediatric Alliance, New York Times, Reuters, World Health Organization 1, World Health Organization 2
Photo: nyt

Maternal_Mortality
Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa with a population of about 15 million. It borders Angola and the Democratic Republic of The Congo. One of the main health problems that Zambia faces is maternal mortality. However, in recent years the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Zambia has declined.

In 1996, the MMR in Zambia was 649 per 100,000 live births. Although this number rose throughout the years, to a total of 729 per 100,000 births in 2002, by 2011, the MMR in Zambia had fallen to 591 per 100,000.

Hemorrhaging, or extensive bleeding, is one of the main causes of maternal mortality. Many women who give birth at home do not have the blood transfusions available to help them recover from the loss of blood, and some hospitals also do not have enough blood available to provide those transfusions. According to the United Nations Population Fund (NFPA), hemorrhaging accounts for 34 percent of maternal deaths.

The Population Reference Bureau reports that another main cause of maternal mortality in Zambia is obstructed labor, which is when the infant is not able to exit its mother due to its position or the size of its head. Obstructed labor can be solved by giving birth via C-section, but many people give birth at home and some hospital attendants are not able to perform the C-section needed for a safe delivery. 8 percent of the maternal deaths in Zambia are due to obstructed labor.

Infections due to unsanitary conditions during delivery also account for some of the maternal deaths which occur in Zambia. 13 percent of mothers die because of poor hygienic conditions during their delivery. Other causes of maternal mortality include complications from unsafe abortions and underlying causes such as malaria, anemia, HIV or cardiovascular disease, diseases that are aggravated during delivery.

Another problem is that many women are not able to go to a hospital and receive the help that they need. Only 47 percent of births in Zambia are attended by a skilled health worker. Urban women are more likely to have access to a hospital at the time of birthing. Women also choose to not go to a hospital because of traditional beliefs and customs, which promote home births and the use of traditional healing — such as the drinking of certain herbs that are supposed to help women deliver quickly. These herbs can cause vomiting and diarrhea and sometimes complicate the delivery.

Groups such as UNICEF and Saving Mothers; Giving Life (SMGL) are working to help lower the number of maternal deaths in Zambia. Saving Mothers; Giving Life is a group that works with the Zambian government and has a six-step plan they use to helping decrease the MMR. Firstly, they equip facilitates so that they are prepared to help women with complications receive care within two hours. They also work to increase the availability of drugs and equipment, train and mentor health professionals, promote better transportation to health facilities, improve data collection and help mobilize communities to increase demand for hospital births. Since 2011, they have been working in four districts in Zambia and have decreased the MMR in those districts by 35 percent.

UNICEF, according to their website, funds programs and interventions aimed at improving care for mothers and children. The government of the Republic of Zambia is also playing a large part in improving the MMR, as they have abolished user fees for maternal and child health services in order to grant larger access to such services.

All of these efforts have paid off, as shown by the dramatic success of Saving Mothers; Giving Life. However, in order to help continue to reduce MMR, programs such as those implemented by SMGL should be established throughout the entire country.

Ashrita Rau

Sources: UNICEF, Saving Mothers, PRB, The CIA World Factbook
Photo: Flickr

Save_Lives_At_Birth

The Save Lives At Birth Challenge seeks to improve the chances of survival for mothers and newborns in developing nations. Their aim is to leapfrog existing products and conventional approaches to find the best possible solution to a difficult problem.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, women are 136 times more likely to die in childbirth than in developed countries. From the beginning of labor through the following 48 hours, the mother and newborn are at the highest risk of infection and complications, and the Save Lives At Birth Challenge seeks to change these unfavorable odds.

The Save Lives At Birth Challenge takes on the leapfrogging mentality: skip intermediary steps and get right to the fastest, smartest and cheapest solution. Each year, Save Lives At Birth offers grant money to innovators with big ideas that will help women and children.

One remarkable innovation that received this grant money was the Gene-Radar, created in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It’s an iPad-sized device that accurately tests for diseases such as HIV in less than an hour. In the developing world, it can take up to two weeks to get blood tests and cost up to $200. The Gene-Radar is still in production, however, by the time it is on the market it will be 10 to 100 times cheaper than the current option.

Using the Gene-Radar, health workers would simply have to take a prick of blood, place it on a nano chip, then place the chip in the device and have results within the hour. This would allow the health worker to easily identify the problem, and for the patient to quickly receive treatment.

Another innovation that received grant money was thought up by a car mechanic, Jorge Odón, who got the idea after watching a video on how to remove the lost cork from a wine bottle. He realized the same trick could be used to save a baby stuck in the birth canal. Odón’s invention is shockingly simple: an attendant would slip a lubricated plastic bag around the baby’s head, inflate to grip and then pull the bag until the baby emerges.

Doctors say this invention has enormous potential in the developing world. Odón has created a solution to a problem that has been around for years. It is innovation like this that the Save Lives At Birth Challenge seeks and promotes.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Save Lives At Birth 1, Save Lives At Birth 2, Saving Life at Birth 3, USAID
Photo: Save Lives At Birth

ketamine

“Every minute of every day, a woman dies somewhere as a result of pregnancy or childbirth,” says Thomas Burke, chief of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Division of Global Health and Human Rights.

Ketamine, an inexpensive anesthetic, is a solution to the global crisis of maternal death due to pregnancy, enabling women to undergo C-sections rather than facing death or serious injury.

Each day, 1,400 women die from causes relating to pregnancy. Pregnancy is the second largest killer of women, behind only HIV/AIDS. And for each woman that dies from pregnancy, 50 to 100 are disabled or suffer from disease. Pregnancy related death affects around 15 to 20 million women every year.

A major cause of death and injury during pregnancy is obstructed labor and a lack of availability of a cesarean section. When labor is obstructed and no C-section is available, women frequently die, suffer from postpartum hemorrhage (which can also cause death), or suffer from fistula (where the bladder and rectum walls erode and are permanently connected to the vagina).

Many clinics and hospitals in developing countries lack the ability to perform C-sections because no anesthesia or anesthesiologists are present, which are necessary for this intensive surgery. This lack of anesthesia services presents a global problem, as anesthesia can potentially save countless lives of women.

Massachusetts General Hospital is addressing this crisis. They created an innovative way to provide anesthesia services to remote, extremely impoverished regions. Their initiative is called The Every Second Matters for Mothers and Babies—Ketamine for Painful Procedures and Emergency Cesarean Section (ESM-Ketamine). Ketamine is an extremely inexpensive anesthetic; it has been used without any formal procedure around the world for over 40 years, and has a near perfect safety record even with little equipment.

C-sections are the most common worldwide operation. One study of 49 countries estimates that if there was an increase in C-sections (by 2.8 million), 59,100 cases of obstetric fistula and 16,800 maternal deaths would be prevented.

The ESM-Ketamine initiative’s goal is to train clinicians that have no background in anesthesia. The Ketamine initiative offers four days of training for mid-level and above healthcare providers for C-sections and emergency surgeries, using Ketamine as an anesthetic, when no professional anesthetist is available.

Most anesthesia training programs require around four years of training, which is simply not feasible in these developing communities, nor an immediate solution to a crisis that is happening now.

The World Health Organization estimates that 10-15% of births require a C-section. Kenya Demographic Health Survey recently reported that C-section rates in many parts of Kenya are lower than one percent of births. A 2011 Kenya Ministry of Health study also found that only 18 anesthetists exist in the Nyanza region, which has a population of 5.8 million.

Since May 29, 2015, ESM-Ketamine initiative has trained healthcare providers in various hospitals across Kenya, resulting in 231 safe, life-improving surgeries. The program’s initial success demonstrates the powerful potential that Ketamine has for making previously impossible surgeries accessible to women in developing nations, women that provide deeply-rooted social and economic stability to their communities.

When a mother dies or is disabled, her entire community is impacted, and quality of life diminishe—child death rate increases, child education decreases, and both families and communities become more economically unstable.

The maternal mortality rate (MMR), or the ratio of the number of women that die per 10,000 births, was 11.7 in the United States in 2005. In 2014, there are still places on earth where one in six women die from pregnancy related causes; in South Sudan, Afghanistan, and Sierra Leone, the MMR is as high as 2,054.8.

The ESM-Ketamine program provides an inexpensive solution that allows women to undergo cesarean sections, rather than dying or becoming seriously disabled. Healthy women enable a healthy, stable community.

– Margaret Anderson

Sources: Massachusetts General Hospital, World Journal of Surgery, Harvard H Policy Review
Photo: Massachusetts General Hospital

child_mortality
According to the World Health Organization, 9.2 million children under the age of 5 die every year, many from preventable conditions that could be treated with simple healthcare interventions. The majority of these deaths occur in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where the child mortality rate is 175 per 1000 (compared to 6 per 1000 in industrialized countries).

Many of the diseases that kill children younger than 5-years-old are caused by lack of access to healthcare facilities, improper hygiene and sanitation, unclean water and not enough food, and low levels of education and information. The top three causes of child mortality are:

1. Pneumonia
About 15 percent of child mortality deaths are caused by pneumonia. In 2013, pneumonia killed an estimated 935,000 children under the age of 5. Pneumonia occurs when the air sacs in the lungs, the alveoli, are filled with pus and fluid. This makes breathing difficult, and does not allow the infected person to intake enough oxygen. Those who are malnourished have weaker immune systems and are therefore at a higher risk of dying from pneumonia. Pneumonia is also more likely to affect those who have pre-existing illnesses such as HIV, who live in an area where levels of indoor air pollution are high because of cooking with biomass fuels like wood or dung, who live in crowded homes, or those who have parents who smoke. While pneumonia can be treated with antibiotics, only one third of the children infected with pneumonia get the antibiotics necessary to cure them.

2. Diarrhoeal Disease
Each year, diarrhea kills 760,000 children under the age of 5. It is caused by unclean drinking water, contaminated food or person-to-person contact and poor hygiene. Malnourished children are more susceptible to diarrhea, and children in developing countries are likely to contract at least three cases of diarrhea each year. Since diarrhea leads to malnourishment, those who are already weakened by the disease are likely to contract it again. Diarrhea then leads to severe dehydration, which leads to death. It can be treated with rehydration zinc supplements. A good method of preventing diarrhea is decreasing levels of malnutrition, therefore making children less likely to be infected with the disease.

3. Malaria
In Africa, a child dies every minute from malaria, a disease caused by parasites. These parasites are transmitted to people from mosquito bites. The symptoms are first expressed as fever, chills and vomiting, and can then progress to severe illness and death if not treated within 24 hours. Malaria is preventable through the use of mosquito nets and levels of deaths caused by malaria are decreasing. Malaria related mortality cases in Africa have fallen 54 percent since 2000.

Child mortality is also high in countries that have a high Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR). More than a third of child mortality deaths occur in the first month of life and are related to pre-term birth, birth asphyxia (suffocation), and infections. In order to reduce Child Mortality, Maternal Mortality rates also have to decrease. This can happen with increased access to healthcare facilities and increased prenatal visits.

Child mortality rates are decreasing, but there is still work to be done. Vaccinations, adequate nutrition and increasing education will all help to decrease the levels of child mortality.

Ashrita Rau

Sources: WHO 1, WHO 2, WHO 3, WHO 4
Photo: Flickr

maternal_mortality
The earthquakes that shook Nepal in late April and early May were declared the country’s worst natural disaster on record. The quakes claimed the lives of 8,800 people and injured 22,000 others. The mass destruction and death toll continue to have devastating effects on all aspects of the country’s well-being. The Nepalese people are trying to rebuild and reclaim the sense of normalcy that existed before the quakes, but the earthquakes’ effects have presented new challenges.

Before the storm, increasing amounts of Nepalese women were choosing to have their babies in health facilities — a choice that helped Nepal meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goal in the reduction of maternal mortality rates by three-quarters. Another major factor in the massive reduction of such rates is a decade-old decision to distribute misoprostol to women who need it. Misoprostol is a drug designed to treat stomach ulcers, but is also capable of terminating a pregnancy when taken early on, and preventing postpartum hemorrhage — the leading cause of maternal death — when taken after giving birth.

The decision to distribute the powerful drug as a means to decrease maternal mortality lacked international support largely because the hegemonic ideology is that the best way to improve maternal mortality rates is to invest in making health facilities more accessible. While the idea of creating hundreds of well-stocked and adequately staffed health centers that are available to all mothers is a good one and would certainly reduce maternal mortality rates, overall it is unrealistic for many developing countries. The reality is that in developing countries where there have been large government expenditures on improving facilities, maternal mortality rates have not improved as significantly as they have in Nepal.

Since the massive earthquake struck, expectant mothers face additional challenges and there is concern that the mortality rates could increase again. With the destruction of roads and many healthcare facilities, giving expectant mothers misoprostol makes even more sense.

Currently, distributing the misoprostol amidst the widespread destruction is a major issue in Nepal. Aid groups, such as Direct Relief, have been working with the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM) and the Midwifery Society of Nepal (MIDSON), to deliver midwife kits, tents and funds. The intervention program focuses on providing midwives and the tools that they require, including misoprostol, to give Nepalese mothers the best chance at having a healthy delivery.

When access to midwives and trained professionals is as severely limited as it is in Nepal, there needs to be a backup plan. Few countries have followed in Nepal’s footsteps but if Nepal’s success has been any indication, misoprostol could be an intermittent solution that could work for many developing countries. In time, we will see how Nepalese maternal mortality rates fare in the aftermath of the horrific disaster. If the low rates are upheld, perhaps the international community will reconsider responsible use of misoprostol to get countries maternal mortality rates down, until the large scale investments in facilities and infrastructure can be made.

– Emma Dowd

Sources: Economist, Foreign Policy, Military Technologies, Reuters
Photo: Women News Network

Maternal-mortality-rates-China
Fifteen years ago, a summit convened. All member states of the United Nations at the time gathered and agreed on eight international development goals. The Millennium Development Goals (MDG), as they are named, were adopted to better lives in the developing world.

One of the countries highlighted was China, and it has surpassed the world’s expectations, improving health for mothers and their children – ahead of the 2015 target date.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), an organization within the People’s Republic of China that works at the policy level to improve medical conditions for Chinese families, stated that, as of June 10, 2015, maternal mortality rates have dropped dramatically over the past 25 years. This exceeds the fifth Millennium Goal and has made a powerful impact on the lives of Chinese women.

The maternal death rate in China dropped significantly since 1990. In fact, it has plummeted 75.6 percent. In 1990 death rate among mothers giving birth was 88.8 per 100,000 compared to 21.7 per 100,000 in 2014.

Maternal mortality rates can be an important indication of the health of a nation and China’s success, attributed in part to its growing economy, better funded health care and allowances provided for rural women to give birth in hospitals, suggests extraordinary progress.

The gap between urban and rural pregnancies has always been vast in China with rural care significantly lower, but in past years access to medical services in less populated areas has improved as well. The hospital delivery rate in rural families was merely 36.4 percent in 1990 while in 2014, the rate had increased to 99.6 percent.

Additionally, the NHFPC said that in 2014, seven years ahead of the Millennium Development Goals deadline, infant death rates and mortality for children under 5 dropped to 8.9 per thousand and 11.7 per thousand, respectively.

In Nanning, capital of southwest China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous region, several health vehicles, with the help of two organizations, were put into operation devoted to impoverished rural women in need of maternal care.

All-China Women’s Federation (ACWF) and the China Women’s Development Foundation (CWDF) donated 30 Health Express for Mothers mobile medical units in 2009 and 10 more in August 2011. During the year before the ceremonial departure on August 4, 2011, over 4,000 maternal women and 500 more critical patients were helped by the service.

Medical units such as the ones in Nanning have helped thousands of women, given training to over 17,000 medical workers and have brought health benefits to millions of rural residents.

China has made leaps and bounds in the care for its women and children. Increased healthcare funding and better medical facilities accompanied with the grass roots efforts of tenacious citizens have demonstrated China’s ability to go above and beyond the world’s expectations, improving life for its people.

– Jason Zimmerman

Sources: Women of China, Women of China, The Lancet, Women of China, China.org
Photo: MedHealthNet

maternal_mortality_nigeria
Nigeria is second only to India in terms of the number of maternal deaths it experiences, and along with five other countries—India, Pakistan, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, China and Ethiopia—Nigeria is part of a group which makes up more than 50 percent of the maternal mortalities that occur in the world.

The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) in Nigeria was 560 per 100,000 live births in 2013. As UNICEF states, Nigeria loses 145 women to maternal mortality each day. This high level of maternal mortality is also linked to Nigeria’s high rate of deaths for children under 5—newborns account for a quarter of the under-five deaths which occur in the country.

There are many reasons why maternal mortality in Nigeria is so high, including a lack of access to healthcare, rampant poverty, substandard health care and the prevalence of child marriage.

Urban women have more of an opportunity to receive healthcare than rural women do. As stated in a Global One report about Nigeria, women in urban areas have over twice as many deliveries taking place in public and private health facilitates than women in rural areas. This is because women in rural areas are normally not able to afford the transport to the hospitals in urban areas, and have to settle for midwives or traditional birth attendants—or no help at all—when giving birth. Many of these traditional birth attendants do not have the skills and training necessary for delivering a baby—for example, many are not able to perform C-sections—and for treating complications that can occur during birth.

Rural women do not have the money to travel to hospitals to receive better care. Nigeria has a high poverty rate, with a 2010 report stating that 64.4 percent of the population lived in extreme poverty and 83.9 percent of the population lived in moderate to extreme poverty. The fact that many people cannot afford the healthcare that they need contributes to Nigeria’s high MMR.

Even if women in Nigeria are able to have access to a hospital, they sometimes still end up suffering. This is because some hospitals in Nigeria have substandard care. For example, Global One’s report states that substandard birth techniques in government hospitals in North-Central Nigeria, including poor C-section procedures, accounted for 40 percent of all fistula injuries suffered by women in Nigeria.

A fistula, according to the World Health Organization, is a hole in the birth canal. Fistulas are directly connected to obstructed labor, a problem that contributes to high levels of maternal mortality. Even if women survive labor, many of them still have to live with the fistula. Approximately two million women live with an untreated obstetric fistula in Sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia, and women with fistulas suffer incontinence, social segregation and health issues.

Fistulas are more common in women who give birth at a young age. These women’s bodies are not ready for childbirth, leading to many health problems, including obstetric fistulas. Nigeria has an extremely high rate of child marriage—43 percent of girls get married before the age of eighteen—and many of those girls are not given the option of whether or not they want to get pregnant. Contraceptive use is slowly becoming more widespread and acceptable, but in 2008, only 10 percent of women used contraceptives.

Since contraceptive use is still stigmatized, many brides under the age of 18 are forced to give birth, and their bodies are very vulnerable to complications, therefore contributing to a high maternal mortality rate. Nigeria also has a high fertility rate—five children per woman in 2014—which also impacts the MMR.

If Nigeria wants to reduce its high levels of maternal mortality, it has to make sure that access to healthcare is more widespread. It also needs to improve the quality of healthcare available, reduce the number of child marriages and de-stigmatize contraceptive use.

– Ashrita Rau

Sources: UNICEF, WHO 1 WHO 2, WHO 3WHO 3, Global One Girls not Brides, IRIN News CIA World Factbook
Photo: Healthy Newborn Network

maternal_mortality
Sierra Leone, a small country on the West African coast, gained independence from Britain in 1961. Ranked as the least developed country in the world in 2007, poverty and maternal mortality are some of the main problems that Sierra Leone faces today.

As of 2010, Sierra Leone had a maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 857 per 100,000 live births, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for women to give birth. This high maternal mortality rate was mainly due to hemorrhages, a cause of 26 percent of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa. Since Sierra Leone only collects annually one-forth of the blood it needs for transfusions, hemorrhages are a major danger during childbirth. Other contributors to the high MMR are obstructed labor, anemia and toxemia during pregnancy.

Approximately 73 percent of births in Sierra Leone occur in rural areas, where access to health care during pregnancy is normally limited and maternal healthcare does not have as many beneficial outcomes compared to healthcare in urban areas. Many women who need cesarean sections do not receive them, due to the fact that even if a birth attendant is present, many birth attendants are actually aides who do not have the qualifications to perform a cesarean section or to do other tasks that are necessary to help the mothers survive.

Maternal mortality is also prevalent because of a lack of sanitation. Traditional practices also play a cause, since many communities choose home-births instead of modern health care facilities.

Another cause of maternal mortality in Sierra Leone is the high rate of adolescent marriages. Forty-four percent of girls in Sierra Leone marry before they reach the age of 18. Adolescents are more likely to suffer during pregnancy and childbirth, as their bodies are normally not developed enough to carry a baby and deliver safely.

Contraceptive use is also not widespread in Sierra Leone, contributing to Sierra Leone’s high MMR. Only about 7 percent of women use contraceptives, leading to a high fertility rate of 5 children per woman. This contributes to more children and more pregnancy related complications.

In 2010, in order to reduce the MMR and the high rate of children’s deaths in Sierra Leone—almost one-third of children died before they reached their fifth birthday as of 2007—the government of Sierra Leone implemented a policy that would provide free healthcare for pregnant and lactating women and for children under the age of five. This policy led to increased amounts of antenatal care visits immediately after it was introduced, but antenatal care visits decreased once again a few months later, and the policy was not as impactful as hoped.

Therefore, despite the 2010 healthcare act, Sierra Leone is still facing high rates of maternal mortality and a high rate of deaths among children under 5. However, there is hope. Thanks to a now thriving mining industry and a GDP that is growing, Sierra Leone’s economy is looking up. Hopefully, these economic benefits can be invested in the healthcare industry and can help contribute to the supplies and care that pregnant women and their children need.

– Ashrita Rau

Sources: The Borgen Project 1, The Borgen Project 2, Amnesty International, UNFPA, WHO 1, WHO 2, The Guardian, ICRW
Photo: Flickr

merck for mothers
Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, $500 million initiative that envisions, and works toward, a world where no woman dies giving life. Currently, an estimated 800 women die per day, primarily in developing nations. Merck’s global mission is to bring better healthcare and innovative health solutions to millions of people across the developing world; a commitment that has been in standing for more than 150 years. Working closely with its program leadership, advisory board, healthcare workers, maternal health experts and policy makers, the Merck for Mothers initiative has already served in more than 30 countries across the world.

As stated on its website, “Women are the cornerstone of a healthy and prosperous world. When a mother survives pregnancy and childbirth, her family, community, and nation thrive.”

Merck for Mothers aims to see nations thrive by saving as many lives as possible, and it does this by tackling the two leading causes of maternal mortality: excessive bleeding after labor and high blood pressure disorders during pregnancy and childbirth.

For example, in Uganda, where a woman faces a one in 49 chance of dying during pregnancy and childbirth, many of the private healthcare providers, such as independent midwives and local pharmacies, offer services that are not always regulated and can vary in quality. As a result, Merck for Mothers explores the ability of these local private providers and health businesses to deliver affordable and high-quality maternal healthcare. This is a program that has estimated to reach more than 150 thousand pregnant women over the span of three years.

Each of the 30 country programs is different and tailored to that country, yet they all strive for the same goal: giving mothers a better chance at surviving pregnancy and childbirth. In addition, Merck for Mothers focuses on family planning, which is known to play a key role in reducing maternal mortality. Merck for Mothers explains this through the Ripple Effect. When a mother dies, the ripple effect begins with her child who is more likely to die before the age of two. If she has other children, they are also up to 10 times more likely to leave school and suffer from poor health. But a mother’s death affects more than just her family.

Merck for Mothers believes that a woman’s death also impairs her community. Representing as much as one-third of the world’s gross national product, a woman’s unpaid work contributes to a community’s economic prosperity. In the end, this becomes a global economic issue. For these reasons, Merck for Mothers focuses on three key areas: innovation, access and advocacy.

At Merck, corporate responsibility is the cornerstone of its daily commitment to tackle global health challenges, such as river blindness, HIV/AIDS and cervical cancer. It has been a 150-year commitment, but that has not stopped Merck from making new additions.

With Merck for Mothers, it can now expand its scope and save the lives of millions of mothers across the globe, so that every day 800 more lives of women are spared.

– Chelsee Yee

Sources: Merck for Mothers, Poughkeepsie Journal, Mobi Health News
Photo: Modern Mom