Sunday, May 24, 2009

Death in birth: The shortcomings of maternal health care in the developing world

Read the feature story by Denise Grady in today's New York Times. According to the World Health Organization 536,000 deaths a year are attributable to pregnancy and child birth, about half of those in Africa. Grady explains some of the reasons:
Most of the deaths are preventable, with basic obstetrical care. Tanzania, with roughly 13,000 deaths annually, has neither the best nor the worst record in Africa. Although it is politically stable, it is also one of the world’s poorest countries, suffering from almost every problem that contributes to high maternal death rates — shortages of doctors, nurses, drugs, equipment, roads and transportation.
Grady reports that the United Nations in 2000 set the goal of reducing maternal deaths by 75% over the next 15 years. But with 2015 just six years away, few countries are expected to reach the target. One Tanzanian obstetrician is quoted as asking, “Why don’t we have a global fund for maternal health, like the one for TB, malaria and AIDS?”

Why, indeed? And why aren't countries doing more given that the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) specifically addresses the health care needs of women and requires action from member states?

No comments: