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One in 16 women die in pregnancy or childbirth in sub-Saharan Africa compared with one in 2,800 women in developed countries. What is the broader context of this problem and what action needs to be taken globally to reduce maternal deaths?
In September 2000, 189 countries committed to supporting the Millennium Development Goals, including the fifth goal, to reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent from 1990 to 2015. A number of countries, including Egypt, Thailand and Bangladesh, have already shown that this enormous task is possible, yet it is unlikely that most African and some Asian countries will reach the target.
This paper, the fifth in The Lancet Maternal Survival Series, looks at the broader context of maternal health in poor countries, including the social and economic vulnerability of women in pregnancy, and emphasises the importance of wider strategies such as poverty reduction and empowering women. It assesses the consequences of maternal health problems other than death, links to other global survival initiatives such as HIV, and considers the financial and political context of maternal mortality. It also considers the programme implications of the close association between the mother, the foetus and the child.
The paper finds that:
If the MDG-5 is to be reached, the focus must remain on this target, while also retaining the broader perspective. Action will be needed at all levels, from governments to the international community and health experts, and between global initiatives. The report calls for the following:
‘Maternal health in poor countries: the broader context and a call for action’, The Lancet Maternal Survival Series 386, pages 1535-1541, by Véronique Filippi, Carine Ronsmans, Oona M.R. Campbell, Wendy J. Graham, Anne Mills, Jo Borghi, Marjorie Koblinsky and David Osrin, 2006 Full document.
Funded by: UK Department for International Development (DFID); Initiative for Maternal Mortality Programme Assessment (IMMPACT)
id21 Research Highlight: 23 January 2007
Department of Epidemiology and Population Health
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
London WC1E 7HT
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