President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama's visit to Africa this weekend "will send a powerful message to the world about their commitment to ensuring Africa's continued progress," wrote Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) in an opinion piece in The Hill. She continues that "for Africa to make this long-forestalled progress, a renewed promise must be made to provide highly cost-effective solutions to ensure that women are healthy before, during and after pregnancy." According to Rep. Moore,
Access to quality healthcare remains a burden for too many pregnant women. Only 40 percent of births worldwide take place in a health facility. Access to skilled health professionals, including midwives and birth attendants, is limited. Six of the seven countries with the highest levels of maternal mortality have less than one doctor per every 10,000 people.
This is unacceptable.
Moore applauds some achievements related to maternal health, like the House Appropriations Committee recent approval of increased funding for family planning and maternal and child health as part of the fiscal year 2010 Foreign Operations Appropriations bill (HR 3081). Although there has been progress in fighting HIV/AIDS and working toward other Millennium Development Goals, "[w]e must recognize the appalling lack of progress that has been made in the area of maternal mortality, child mortality and family planning as major barriers to progress on all of the other goals," according to Moore. "Improving impoverished women's chances of survival before, during and after pregnancy is an issue of rights and social justice. It is also a sound economic and social investment, given the importance of women to the well-being of their children, families and societies."
Thank you, Rep. Moore, for being such a fantastic advocate of maternal health.