Why We Must Act Now
The stakes are high but progress is possible.
This year, it is estimated that 287,000 women will die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. A great many of these deaths are preventable. For every woman who dies, 20 others suffer injury, infection or disability. This toll is heartbreaking and unacceptable.
We know that making progress will not be easy. There is no "magic bullet" when so many women lack access to basic medical care, but dozens of life-saving technologies are potentially available to address this global catastrophe.
The solutions must be evaluated and adapted for viability in high-burden areas. New and amplified efforts are needed to ensure that health professionals understand what works and national governments should be prepared to deliver these solutions at the local level.
The majority of maternal deaths are preventable.
More than half of all deaths during pregnancy and childbirth are from
post-partum hemorrhage (35 percent of all deaths) and
preeclampsia (18 percent of all deaths). Many of these deaths can be avoided when women in need have access to quality prevention, diagnostic, and treatment services.
Ambitious efforts are under way, but more work is needed.
In 2000, the United Nations agreed to work toward eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Goal 5 focuses on improving maternal health in two ways: MDG 5a calls for reducing maternal deaths by three quarters and MDG 5b calls for universal access to reproductive health — including pre-natal care and family planning.
In Sept. 2010, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon launched the Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health, which catalyzed $40 billion worth of new action on maternal and child health from diverse stakeholders.
While some countries are making progress, many are falling behind. The world is not on track to achieve the goals outlined in MDG 5a or MDG 5b.