Maternity Care in the Majority World
Photo: Paolo Patruno
- According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the maternity care a woman receives is closely linked to the health and survival of newborns, and the survival and health of a mother is critical to the preservation of family.
- Nearly 50% of all maternal deaths occur during childbirth or within the first week of birth, and are directly related to childbirth. These causes include hemorrhaging, obstructed labor, hypertensive disorders in pregnancy, infection, and complications of unsafe abortions.
- According to UNICEF, every minute one woman dies from complications of childbirth, which equals to about 529,000 women each year. Most of these women are in developing nations.
- Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia have the highest rate of maternal and child mortality, with women in sub-Saharan Africa facing a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth, compared to a 1 in 4,000 risk in the U.S. These women are at a much higher risk of obtaining a birth related disability that will go untreated, including damage to pelvic muscles, organs or the spinal cord. These injuries affect both their quality of life, and social acceptance. Additionally, over 70% of all child deaths occur in Africa or South-East Asia, typically in rural areas and among poorer and less educated families. 
- Nearly half of all births in developing countries take place without a skilled birth attendant (a midwife, nurse, physician or obstetrician). In Ethiopia that rate is less than 10%.
- Simple, affordable interventions, such as safe birthing kits, promoting exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of life, family and community awareness of warning signs of serious illnesses for both mother and child, accessible and reliable transportation to emergency obstetric care, can significantly decrease the rate of maternal and child mortality, the spread of many infectious diseases, and help preserve families, thus decreasing the vulnerability of millions of children in our world.
- Birth is a Dream is a short video that illustrates Maternity in Africa. It contains graphic material, but if you are concerned about this issue, we encourage you to watch.