As on the most recent estimates, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth every two minutes, according to a report released today by United Nations agencies. Maternal deaths have either grown or stalled in almost all parts of the world in recent years, according to this report on trends in maternal mortality, which shows significant setbacks for women’s health. As the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, “While pregnancy should be a time of great hope and a positive experience for all women, it is tragically still a shockingly dangerous experience for millions around the world who lack access to high quality, respectful health care” (WHO).
The essential need to guarantee that every woman and girl has access to vital health care before, during, and after childbirth, as well as that they can fully exercise their reproductive rights, is made clear by these new numbers. According to the paper, there were an estimated 287 000 maternal deaths worldwide in 2020. The report analyzes maternal fatalities domestically, regionally, and internationally from 2000 to 2020. This represents a marginal decline from the 309 000 recorded in 2016, the year the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the United Nations went into force. Although the research shows some notable improvement in lowering maternal fatalities between 2000 and 2015, after this point, advances mainly halted or, in some cases, even reversed.
Maternal death rates rose between 2016 and 2020 in two of the eight United Nations regions—Latin America and the Caribbean and Europe and Northern America—by 17% and 15%, respectively. The rate stayed the same elsewhere. Yet, the paper acknowledges that advancement is feasible. For instance, 31 nations worldwide and two regions—Australia and New Zealand and Central and Southern Asia—saw considerable drops in their maternal death rates during the same time period (by 35% and 16%, respectively). According to the United Nations‘s UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, “for millions of families, the miracle of childbirth is tainted by the tragedy of maternal fatalities.”
“No mother should ever have to worry about losing her life giving birth to a child, especially given that we have the knowledge and resources to handle common issues.” Every mother, regardless of her identity or location, has a fair opportunity at a safe delivery and a prosperous future with her family because to healthcare equity. Maternal deaths continue to be disproportionately prevalent in the world’s poorest regions and in nations that are experiencing conflict. Sub-Saharan Africa accounted for almost 70% of all maternal fatalities in 2020. Maternal mortality rates were more than double the worldwide norm in nine nations that were experiencing severe humanitarian crises (551 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births, compared to 223 globally).
Juan Pablo Uribe, Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population at the World Bank and Director of the Global Financing Facility, stated that this report serves as “yet another clear reminder of the critical need to double down on our commitment to women and adolescent health.” “We can save lives, promote health and well-being, and advance the rights and opportunities for women and adolescents with rapid action, increased investments in primary health care, and stronger, more resilient health systems.” The main causes of maternal mortality are severe bleeding, high blood pressure, infections related to pregnancy, complications from unsafe abortions, and underlying diseases that might be made worse by pregnancy (such HIV/AIDS and malaria). Many of these are largely treatable and avoidable if one has access to compassionate, high-quality medical treatment.
Primary health care that is based in the community can address the needs of women, kids, and teenagers while facilitating equal access to vital services like assisted deliveries, pre- and postnatal care, childhood immunizations, nutrition, and family planning. Progress is jeopardized by underfunding of primary healthcare systems, a shortage of skilled medical personnel, and shoddy medical supply chains. Over 270 million women lack access to contemporary family planning methods, and almost a third of women do not obtain the minimum eight prenatal checkups or the crucial postpartum care. Women must have control over their reproductive health in order to plan and spacing childbearing and safeguard their health. This includes making decisions about whether and when to have children.
For marginalized pregnant women, who have the least access to necessary maternity care but are most likely to face underlying health issues throughout pregnancy, inequities connected to income, education, race, or ethnicity further raise risks. “That so many women still lose their lives needlessly during pregnancy and childbirth is unconscionable. It is intolerable that there were more than 280,000 fatalities in one year, according to UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “We can and must do better by making urgent investments in family planning and addressing the 900,000 midwife shortfall worldwide so that every woman can access the vital care she requires. The political will is now required in order to put an end to maternal deaths that are avoidable.”
Maternal health advancements may have been further hampered by the COVID-19 epidemic. Given that the current data set comes to an end in 2020, more data will be required to demonstrate the pandemic’s full effects on maternal mortality. Countries should take efforts to ensure that pregnant women and those planning pregnancies have access to COVID-19 immunizations and effective prenatal care because COVID-19 infections can increase hazards during pregnancy.
“According to John Wilmoth, Head of the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, maternal mortality reduction continues to be one of the most important global health concerns. “It will need ongoing national and international efforts as well as unshakable pledges, especially for the most vulnerable populations, to end unnecessary maternal mortality and ensure that everyone has access to high-quality maternal health care. We must all work together to make sure that every mother, everywhere, makes it through childbirth healthy so that both she and her children can prosper.” The analysis shows that, in order to fulfill the worldwide targets for lowering maternal fatalities, development must be greatly accelerated. Otherwise, nearly 1 million additional women’s lives will be in danger by 2030.
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