World Health Organization (WHO) and Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (PMNCH), are working with countries and partners to improve access to high-quality reproductive health for women and girls.
This was even as millions of women are still at risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth, despite having the means to make pregnancy and childbirth safe .
In a report by PMNCH Board Chair Helen Clark, and WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the call was necessary following the death of Zainab a Yemen, who bleed profusely after giving birth to her daughter, Safiya, an incident which highlights how rapidly complications can escalate around childbirth.
According to the report, In Zainab’s case, the hospital where she planned to give birth lost its gynecologist because of funding shortages, and she was forced to deliver at home without the help she needed.
While each woman’s story is unique, data shows that such tragic outcomes occurs frequently around the world – most times due to -threatening gaps in care.
A recent published United Nations report on’ Trends in Maternal Mortality it reveals that over the last few years, global progress on reducing maternal deaths has stagnated. Making it difficult in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals target for reducing maternal mortality by 2030.
The report shows that between 2016 and 2020, only 31 countries achieved significant reductions in maternal mortality, whereas 133 saw progress stall, and 17 experienced an increase, including countries in almost all regions, at all income levels.
The report reveals that inequity linked to income, education, and ethnicity is a key driver of these deaths. Propelling health disparities, determining who has access to health-promoting services, resources, and opportunities.
In sub-Saharan Africa, the risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth is 130 times higher than in Europe or North America. Sha-Asia Washington, a black woman aged 26, died during childbirth in Brooklyn, USA, in 2020. She suffered a cardiac arrest while her baby, Khloe, was delivered through emergency c-section.
The PMNCH and WHO both agreed on the need for a holistic “life course” approach, including interventions that address harmful gender norms, which all too often lead to child marriage, gender-based violence and denied access to sexual and reproductive health services.
Access to high-quality care throughout life has a hugely positive impact across generations. Yet, some women are still unable to fully access critical maternal services.
“In much of the world the issue is that maternal and newborn health is not prioritised enough. For example, between 2019 and 2021, development assistance for reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health decreased by 2.3 per cent”.
“We are working to ensure universal health coverage and accountability, address all causes of maternal mortality and ill health, and strengthen health systems so that they collect high-quality data and respond to the needs and priorities of all women and girls, We must intensify efforts to mobilise global commitments.”.
Writing by Julian Osamoto; Editing by Adeniyi Bakare