Celebrate royal baby, but remember childbirth is still a killer

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

By Steve Murigi

As the world celebrates the long-awaited addition to the British royal family, it is worth taking some time to reflect on the women around the world for whom childbirth is not such a joyous, beautiful and celebrated occasion.

Every year in sub-Saharan Africa, 162,000 mothers die needlessly because of complications during pregnancy and childbirth. That figure represents a staggering 56% of the global total. For an African woman, one of the most natural of events in a woman’s life — giving birth — is also one of the most dangerous. As a result, each year close to 1 million African children are left motherless.

Many of these deaths are avoidable, but not enough is being done to prevent them. Since the turn of the last century, maternal mortality rates worldwide have been in decline but remain high in developing countries, including many African nations. For these maternal death rates to improve in Africa, governments and international institutions must recognize and introduce policies that tackle the challenges faced by African women in accessing effective reproductive healthcare.

Whilst sub-Saharan Africa has seen a decrease in maternal mortality rates over the past 20 years, there is still a long way to go if the region is to meet its Millennium Development Goals. This is largely due to a failure to address political, socio-cultural and financial challenges. There has been slow progress in meeting the 2001 Abuja Declaration, in which countries pledged to assign 15% of their national budgets towards healthcare. This is compounded by deficits within the health ministries for numerous countries resulting in inadequate funding for maternal services.

Source: CNN (link opens in a new window)

Health Care