By: Mariko Rasmussen, Program Assistant at Women Deliver
Today is Blog Action Day and this year’s topic is water. What does safe water have to do with maternal health? A lot. To significantly improve maternal, newborn, and reproductive health, it requires access to quality care for pregnancy and childbirth. Safe health care requires safe water, as well as basic sanitation and waste management. Infections directly contribute to 36% of newborn deaths and sepsis accounts for 15% of maternal deaths in developing countries. If a hospital lacks adequate plumbing, or a village experiences a water shortage, it makes women and children especially vulnerable to the destructive effects of unsafe water. Contact with unsafe water can result in exposure to a wide variety of bacteria, viruses and parasites and therefore can result in waterborne disease, and in some cases, death. Diarrhea weakens pregnant women’s immune systems and results in morbidity and mortality among infants and children under 5.
Goal 7, target 10 of the Millennium Development Goals aims at halving by 2015 the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Goal 5 aims at reducing maternal mortality by three-fourths. Water scarcity and lack of hygiene continue to present challenges for women and children, especially women in childbirth. This is an example of the linkages amongst the Millennium Development Goals, and reminds me of the brunch event Accelerating Progress on the MDGs: Delivering for Girls, Women, and Babies co-hosted by Women Deliver, and several UN, NGO, and foundation partner organizations last month.
Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen spoke at the event about partnerships with the private sector, and his company’s Life Straw® is a great example of social entrepreneurship creating life-saving products for the most vulnerable. LifeStraw® and LifeStraw® Family are complementary point-of-use water filters that help people access safe drinking water both at home and outside. Clean, safe water ensures healthier lives for the immunocompromised, which includes children under 5, pregnant women, and those living with HIV/AIDS. A major topic of discussion at the event was integration and synergy among all the MDGs. According to Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS, it is clear that investing in one MDG will help achieve others. “For me, it is clear: no progress on the MDGs without integration,” he said. Let us continue to work together to reach the MDGs and change the world.
This post is part of Blog Action Day 2010
Flickr photo: Steve Evans