June 2, 2014
By Megan Foo, Girls’ Globe blogger
This post originally appeared on the Girls’ Globe website here. Reposted with permission.
Maternal mortality is a growing global concern. The United Nations Millennium Development Goal 5 aims to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015. The United Nations reports that while the level of maternal mortality worldwide has declined by 47% over the past two decades, the maternal mortality ratio in developing regions remains 15 times higher than in developed regions.
According to the World Health Organization in 2013, 289,000 women died following pregnancy and childbirth, with most of these preventable deaths occurring in low-resource settings. Many of these women lack access to a skilled midwife and emergency obstetric care. In countries where maternal mortality rates are high, mothers and children often also lack access to proper nutrition, water, sanitation, and education.
The positive outcomes associated with improved maternal health, catalyzed by midwives and skilled birth attendants, are unrivaled. Midwives provide a bedrock of support for women and families during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. These amazing women and men play a crucial role in maintaining and improving maternal health, facilitating childbirth, and empowering women to make informed decisions about their healthcare. The benefits of midwifery and maternal health contribute to economies – healthier mothers achieve greater productivity in their jobs, which positively drives economic growth. In addition, when mothers gain knowledge about maternal health, the availability of health services and the importance of proper nutrition and hygiene, their children are healthier and child mortality is reduced.
Girls’ Globe’s featured organizations including Save the Children, Mujeres Aliadas A.C., CleanBirth and the Edna Adan Hospital Foundation are dedicated to improving maternal health through education and health-centered solutions.
Save the Children’s efforts to fortify community-based health systems in over 20 countries has equipped local women and midwives in Afghanistan with the health training needed to offer life saving services to mothers, children and families. Mujeres Aliadas advances the lives of women in Mexico in a two-fold way – by giving them reproductive health and educational services based on professional midwifery models and developing a network that encourages women to advocate for their health rights.
CleanBirth strives to prevent the deaths of mothers and babies in Laos by providing clean birth kits, training nurses, midwives, and providing funding for training village volunteers who educate their community about safe births. The Edna Adan Hospital Foundation supports and advocates for the Edna Adan Hospital in Somaliland. The Edna Adan Hospital Foundation’s goal is to provide women in Somaliland the opportunity for healthy pregnancies and safe childbirth, through increasing women’s access to skilled public health professionals, revamping healthcare facilities, educating midwives, and ending the practice of female genital mutilation.
The results and impact of the work of our featured organizations is far reaching. When education, midwifery training, healthcare and economic advancement are properly harnessed the future of improving maternal health in developing countries becomes brighter.