Most maternal deaths are entirely preventable. Yet, while the world is making progress in fighting maternal mortality, far too many women are still losing their lives.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are the most prominent global anti-poverty initiative ever undertaken. The goals set out targets for alleviating extreme poverty, including reducing maternal deaths by 75% (MDG5), by 2015. However, even this modest target will not be met by the deadline unless efforts are significantly stepped up.
Meeting the maternal mortality target, for example, would require a 5.5% annual reduction in maternal deaths since 1990, and the world has seen only 2.3% annual improvement. A woman still dies from complications of pregnancy or childbirth every 90 seconds.
By Amnesty’s Women’s Human Rights Coordination Group
Next week, we’ll be concluding our Mother’s Day blog series by looking at the international dimensions of maternal mortality. Today we’d like to focus on maternal health as a key to empowering women worldwide.
Globally, motherless children are 10 times more likely to die within two years of their mothers’ death. A mother’s health and nutrition, what care and assistance she received during her pregnancy and delivery determined whether she and you are alive today, and whether you are battling with developmental problems, birth defects, or illnesses, including perinatal HIV.
Every 90 seconds a woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. This is 1,000 women, or more than 2 filled-to-capacity jumbo jets crashing daily. Amnesty International considers this a human rights scandal, not only because almost all of these deaths are preventable, but because they are the culmination of abuses and discrimination against women, from insufficient access to basic healthcare, lack of comprehensive family planning and reproductive healthcare services, early marriages, gender-based violence, to inadequate redress.
This Wednesday, May 11, a Mother’s Day briefing on Capitol Hill will shine a light on the maternal health care crisis in the United States. Featured guest Christy Turlington Burns, maternal health advocate and director of No Woman No Cry, will join Amnesty International researcher Nan Strauss and others to advocate for the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2011.
Drafted to address some of the most pressing recommendations in Amnesty International’s report on maternal mortality in the US, Deadly Delivery, this innovative bipartisan legislation would:
On the International Day of the Midwife, we have a guest post from Jennie Joseph, a midwife in Winter Garden Florida. Jennie is owner and clinical director of The Birth Place, a full-service midwifery clinic and birth center and developer of the JJ Way, a midwifery curriculum geared toward eliminating disparities. She is featured in Christy Turlington Burns’s documentary “No Woman No Cry” that we blogged about yesterday.
Talk is cheap! But right now talk is also becoming effective! When it comes to mothers and babies it appears that recent talk is finally leading to action. Thanks to social networking I am beginning to hear talk from ‘the grassroots’ about the state of maternal and infant health and the need for a drastic change. If we are ever going to be able to do better than ranking 50th in the world when it comes to maternal mortality, then let’s keep talking.
Christy Turlington Burns is a mom, global maternal health advocate, author, filmmaker, public health student, yogi and model. Her directorial debut, No Woman No Cry, shares the powerful stories of at-risk pregnant women in four parts of the world, including the United States.
Join Amnesty International house parties to watch the film’s broadcast premiere on the Oprah Winfrey Network this Saturday, May 7 (the night before Mother’s Day), at 9:30 ET/PT and again on May 8 at 1pm ET/PT.
We spoke with Christy recently about her work to improve maternal health worldwide:
Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 8. Here at Amnesty, we’re honoring mothers by fighting for maternal health — sending Mother’s Day action cards to U.S. and international decision-makers, hosting events and more (sign up here).
49: The number of countriesthat have lower maternal mortality ratios than the US. Women in the US are more likely to die of pregnancy related complications than in 49 other countries, including nearly all European countries, Canada and several countries in Asia and the Middle East.
4 million: The number of women who give birth each year in the US. Childbirth related care is the most common reason for hospitalization in the US.
$98 billion: The total amount spent in the US each year on hospital bills related to childbirth. The average health care provider fees for maternal care are twice as high as any other country.
3 to 4x: African-American women are 3 to 4 times as likely to diefrom pregnancy-related causes as white women.
A woman holds a photograph of Tatia Oden French, who died in 2001 after an induced labor.
This year, Mom won’t be the only person receiving a Mother’s Day card.
Giving birth in the United States is more dangerous than in 49 other countries. In the last 24 hours, around the world, almost 1,000 women have died from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Maternal health is a human right — and there’s no better time than Mother’s Day to let Congress and other leaders around the world know that you care about the lives of women worldwide.
Join the fight for maternal health by requesting Mother’s Day action cards to send to U.S. and world decision-makers. Let us know how many cards you’d like by registering online (they come in sets of six).
These Mother’s Day cards aren’t destined for the shoebox or the refrigerator. Send them back to us and we’ll take them straight to your Members of Congress, urging them to support the Maternal Health Accountability Act, which would take vital steps to improve maternal health in the U.S. We’ll send other cards to leaders in Peru and Burkina Faso, urging them to improve their countries’ troubling maternal health records.
On April 27th, Sierra Leoneans celebrated two important anniversaries: 50 years of independence from Great Britain; one year of free health care to children under five and pregnant and lactating women.
Since independence, Sierra Leone has struggled from crushing poverty, human rights atrocities and a decade of horrible civil war. When the war ended in 2002, Sierra Leone faced many challenges, not the least of which was that it was among the very worst countries in the world to be a pregnant woman or a child.
Although the United States spends $98 billion a year on health care (more than any other country), women in the US actually have a greater risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications than women in 49 countries.
Every day, 2 to 3 women in the United States die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. About 50% of these deaths could have been prevented with better access to quality maternal health care.
Amnesty International’s Lobby Week is coming up. During the first week of May, volunteers from across the country will meet with their Senators and Representatives to encourage them to take action to stop these preventable maternal deaths.
We need your help to ensure the elected officials who represent you have the facts and can help to pass strong legislation to reduce maternal mortality.
So stand up for human rights and maternal health by signing up to coordinateor join a delegation to meet your elected officials. With your visits you can help save lives.
Action for Human Rights. Hope for Humanity.