The birth of George Alexander Louis, the heir to the British throne is exciting news in itself, but also provides an opportunity to reflect on the women around the world for whom childbirth is a dangerous, often fatal experience.
Every year in sub Saharan Africa, 162,000 mothers die from complications during childbirth and pregnancy, representing an alarming 56% of the global total. The saddest part of this high statistic is that many of these deaths could be avoided if more was done to prevent them.
Due to a combination of insufficient resources, lack of transportation to health care centers, inadequate labor forces, and information gaps, maternal care in sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind the rest of the developing and developed world. Although the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals have increased maternal health standards as one of their many goals, most experts on the region agree that sub-Saharan Africa has a long way to go if it is to meet its MDG goals by 2015. Though the 2001 Abuja Declaration set countries on the path towards assigning 15% of their national budgets towards healthcare, true progress has been slow.
Though the bad news may seem overwhelming, it has certainly inspired global organizations to take action towards improving the quality of maternal health care in the most neglected regions. AMREF, for example, has launched its Stand Up for African Mothers Campaign, which aims to train 15,000 midwives by 2015 as a way to bridge the labor, information, and access gap prevalent in most sub-Saharan regions.
By ensuring the safety and health of the world’s mothers, these organizations take a much-needed step towards ensuring that every new mother is treated like a “queen” by her regional health care services, and lives to see her own little prince or princess grow up.
– Alexandra Bruschi