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This Time We Know What to Do

By: Jill Sheffield, president of Women Deliver; originally posted at American Forum

Reading the news is usually an ordeal of watching the world fall apart at an accelerating pace, so when four United Nations agencies offer a new count of mothers’ deaths worldwide in pregnancy and childbirth, one braces for another depressing and insoluble problem. The numbers over the past 20 years, after all, have been stubbornly high: one death per minute on average.

Today, however, the news is jarring because it’s good: the 2008 total of maternal deaths is down 35 percent from 1990. About 358,000 women died in 2008 from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, according to Trends in Maternal Mortality, a recent joint report from the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the World Bank and the United Nations Population Fund. The study reinforces one by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) earlier this year that put the number at 342,900. Both figures translate roughly to one death every 90 seconds. That’s a definite improvement over one per minute. But is it enough? Read more...

Key Leaders at UN MDG Summit Commit to Investing in Women

During the Sunday UNGASS official side event, “Accelerating Action on the MDGs,” delegates were encouraged to focus on commitments to the MDGs and the synergies enhanced by collaboration, networking and funding. Dr. Fred Sai, honorary co-chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference asked the delegates to allocate “at least 30 seconds of their five minute speeches at the UNGASS to focus on your commitment to women.” Click through to read some highlights from the country statements...

The Launch of the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health

Yesterday, the Aspen Institute launched the Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, and issued a call for resolve: Universal Reproductive Health Access by 2015. The Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health is a group of sixteen sitting and former heads of state, high-level policymakers and other leaders committed to advancing reproductive health for lasting development and prosperity. Chaired by former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, these leaders will mobilize the political will and financial resources necessary to achieve universal access to reproductive health by 2015 – a key target of the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Read more...

The Clock is Ticking: Make Every Woman Count

clock.JPGBy: Joanna Hoffman, Program Associate for Women Deliver

As delegates to the UN summit rush between meetings and announce their country’s commitments towards reaching the MDGs, they are coming face to face with the stark reminder of maternal mortality in the form of a “maternal death clock” in Times Square. Amnesty International activated the clock yesterday morning to highlight the staggering consequences of MDG 5’s lack of sufficient progress to date- every 90 seconds, a woman dies in childbirth. In a year, 358,000 mothers die throughout the world.  99% of deaths occur in developing countries, and the majority of these deaths are preventable.

Dr. Fred Sai Speaks Out and Releases His Memoirs

The distinguished Ghanaian physician Fred Sai has devoted his entire career to issues of health and reproductive rights. He is best known for drawing attention to the food and nutrition problems of Africa – particularly in connection to children – and is an internationally recognized authority on health, nutrition, population and family planning. He was also the honorary co-chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference, where he spoke on the issues affecting girls and women around the world. Now, he has released his memoirs in a book called, With Heart and Voice: Fred Sai Remembers.

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