The Case for Action
Healthy mothers, healthy planet
Every mother’s death is a human tragedy – and the ripple effects on her family are enormous: her baby is more likely to die before the age of two and her other children are 10 times more likely to leave school, suffer from poor health, and die prematurely.
The impact of a mother’s death on the wider community is significant. Also, women’s unpaid work equals about one-third of the world’s Gross National Product (GNP). And when a woman is paid for her work, the income she earns is very often spent on essential family needs such as food, education, and medicine.
Ensuring a healthy pregnancy and safe childbirth is important not only for the health and well-being of a woman but also for the prosperity of her family, community, and society.
Safe and healthy motherhood touches us all, whether we live in the Great Lakes of East Africa or the Great Lakes of North America. But the burden of maternal mortality falls most heavily on the developing world, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Many women in developing countries are unable to afford quality care or even pay for transport to a healthcare facility. A great majority of women live in rural areas where there is limited access to basic lifesaving medicines and equipment. And one in three of these women will give birth without the presence of a skilled health worker, leaving them at risk of death if complications arise.
However, maternal mortality is not confined to the developing world. Even in the most medically advanced nations, far too many women still die bringing forth life. In fact, the maternal mortality rate in the U.S. has doubled over the past 20 years.
These statistics are sobering. They highlight the realities of a major global health challenge – one that will require the resources and creative energies of governments, NGOs (non-government organizations), and the private sector to help solve. Working together, we can save the lives of nearly three million women over the next decade.