The Quest To Reduce Maternal Deaths Globally

Pregnancy should be the beginning of a new life, not the end of an existing one. And yet, every day – due to preventable pregnancy-related conditions – approximately 830 maternal deaths take place globally. Seeings as 99% of these women are from developing countries, it is clear that this situation is highly unnecessary.

Women are the cornerstone of a healthy, prosperous society.

Historically and still today, women are the primary caregivers in society (studies show that they make up 66% of caregivers) ranging being an hands-on health provider, care manager, friend, companion, and surrogate decision-maker. Therefore, when women cannot function in a normal, healthy manner, the results flow over to the rest of society.

“When a mother dies or suffers grave injury, it has far-reaching repercussions for her family, her community, and society at large,” says Dr Mary-Ann Etiebet, Lead and Executive Director at MSD for Mothers. “It negatively impacts her children’s future health and wellbeing, their ability to complete their education and reach their full potential. In contrast, we know that a healthy pregnancy and childbirth leads to a lifetime of benefits – both for a woman’s own health and prosperity – as well as that of her children, family, community, and nation. We call this the Mom Effect.”

Fortunately, maternal mortality is a preventable scenario, and the statistics are encouraging. According to the World Health Organisation, between 1990 and 2015, there has been a drop in maternal mortality by 44%. Moreover, between 2016 and 2030 – as a part of the Sustainable Development Goals – the target is to reduce the global maternal mortality rate to less than 70 per 100 000 live births.

MSD for Mothers

This is a new global 10-year initiative sponsored by Merck, with the aim of developing a world where women are safe from pregnancy-related deaths. This $500 million initiative is currently working to ensure that women have access to two powerful means to end preventable maternal deaths:

  • quality maternal care
  • modern contraception

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What are the primary causes of maternal deaths?

1. Non-pregnancy related infection, including HIV/AIDS

2. Complications of hypertension

3. Obstetric haemorrhage

4. Pregnancy related infection such as sepsis

5. Non-pregnancy related diseases (pre-existing medical conditions)

Where do the fathers come in?

With respect to pregnancy and maternity, the facilities need to be able to accommodate the fathers and those men involved in the process. A possible solution to the problem, especially with regards to the current situation with HIV and AIDS, is that antenatal care includes self-screening tests. Pregnant women can take these home after receiving care, and their men can self-test at home.

Another big challenges when you look at the current stats for pregnant women, is that the bulk of young people who are delivering babies are not in stable relationships, especially in developing countries. The solution here is not to marry off every young girl who becomes pregnant, but instead for men in society as a whole to understand that they need to take responsibility for their actions.

Fatherlessness is a big issue in today’s society, where statistics clearly indicating the crucially important role of the father in a home. Where fathers are absent or abusive, children grow up lacking stability and are more likely to suffer from addiction and engage in substance abuse. On the other hand, in a home where a father is present, caring and able to spend time with his children, the positive effects are clearly evident.

The CLEVER Program

“The ‘Working CLEVER’ package was developed to re-organise the way in which obstetric care is provided at district level and to support and mentor midwives and other clinical staff to render high-quality, respectful obstetric care,” says Cathy Bezuidenhout, Project Manager, Research Centre for Maternal, Foetal, New-born & Child Health Care Strategies, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria.

CLEVER has 5 key objectives:

  1. To implement the ‘CLEVER’ innovation, tailored to render high quality respectful maternity care at primary care facilities in South Africa;
  2. To introduce the new intrapartum care guidelines of South Africa which have been based on the new WHO recommendations for a positive childbirth experience
  3. To reduce avoidable factors at primary care level that lead to maternal deaths, and to have a measurable reduction of avoidable fresh stillbirths and perinatal morbidities (intrapartum birth asphyxia and meconium aspiration); and
  4. To practice culturally sensitive and respectful birthing care to a diverse patient population, thereby improving patient satisfaction with clinical services;
  5. To develop an electronic birth register at birthing sites.

maternal deaths | Longevity LIVE

The term CLEVER stands for:

Clinical care

Labour ward management

Eliminate barriers

Verify care

Emergency obstetric simulation training

Respectful care

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