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Properly-Equipped Health Facilities Needed to Address Maternal Mortality in Ivory Coast

By: Nina Benedicte Kouassi, Key Correspondents

When Tanoh Marie felt the first contractions she understood that her delivery time was near. As a mother of two already she knew about such things. With the help of her sister-in-law Adjoua Kan, she made it to N’Zianouan rural health centre to deliver. Both women live in M’Brimbo, a small village 185 km from Abidjan.

“When we got to the rural health centre, the midwife said the baby was not doing well. He was coming by his feet so they could not go ahead with normal delivery and she said that we should go to Tiassalé. Marie said that the pain due to labour was too much for her,” Adjoua Kan remembered. Read more...

The Lancet: Midwifery Matters “More Than Ever”

Experts urge global leaders to recognise midwifery’s “vital potential” to save lives of women and infants worldwide

Midwifery has a crucial part to play in saving the lives of millions of women and children who die during and around the time of pregnancy, according to a major new Series, published in The Lancet.The Series, produced by an international group of academics,  clinicians, professional midwives, policymakers and advocates for women and children, is the most critical, wide-reaching examination of midwifery ever conducted.

It shows the scale of the positive impact that can be achieved when effective, high-quality midwifery is available to all women and their babies.  Apart from saving lives, it also improves their continuing health and wellbeing and has other long-lasting benefits.The authors also produce evidence of a trend towards the overmedicalisation of pregnancy, and the use of unnecessary interventions such as caesarean sections, in high-income and lower-income countries, with consequent hazards and costs. Read more...

Canadian Government Pledges $3.5 Billion to Maternal & Child Health

Global leaders convened on May 28th-30th at the Saving Every Woman, Every Child: Within Arm’s Reach Summit in Toronto, Canada, where the Canadian government committed $ 3.5 billion from 2015 - 2020 to improve the maternal and child health conditions in low-income countries. The next stage of funding will place an increased focus on interventions during the first month of a newborn’s life, on boosting efforts on immunization and improving civil registration and the collection of vital statistics, according to a press release from the Prime Minister’s office.

This funding comes at a time when 289,000 women still die annually from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes despite progress made in the past decades. Following the launch of the Muskoka Initiative at the 2010 G8 Summit, the Canadian government has been a leader on these issues over the last years, and the new commitment shows their continued resolve to be at the forefront of global efforts to improve maternal and newborn health in the developing world. Read more..

45 Percent Fewer Women Die Giving Life—More Would Survive If They Counted

Women Deliver welcomes two new studies that highlight reductions in maternal mortality and the causes behind those deaths, but calls for further improvements in overall data collection for girls and women

6 May 2014 – The number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has declined by 45 percent, from 523,000 in 1990 to an estimated 289,000 in 2013, according to a new study, Trends in Maternal Mortality Estimates 1990-2013, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), The World Bank and the United Nations Population Division.

The progress is noteworthy, but the decline is less than what is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015. Read more...

New Report Tracing History of Maternal Health Efforts Mentions Impact of Women Deliver

A new report, commissioned by the MacArthur Foundation, and entitled “Maternal Health from 1985-2013: Hopeful Progress and Enduring Challenges,” traces the history of global efforts to define priorities, mobilize action and measure progress toward reducing the impact of maternal mortality. The paper, by independent consultant Tim Thomas, highlights major moments in policy, funding, programming, and clinical and social science research over the nearly 30 years since the World Health Organization (WHO) first published maternal mortality estimates and The Lancet published the groundbreaking article “Maternal mortality – a neglected tragedy: Where is the M in MCH?Read more...

The Lancet Publishes New Study on Maternal Mortality in Adolescents

The following contains excerpts from The Lancet article "Maternal mortality in adolescents compared with women of other ages: evidence from 144 countries."

The Lancet has published a new article investigating the toll of maternal mortality on adolescents. Adolescents are often noted to have an increased risk of death during pregnancy or childbirth compared with older women, but the existing evidence is inconsistent and in many cases contradictory. The new study aimed to quantify the risk of maternal death in adolescents by estimating maternal mortality ratios for women aged 15 to 19 years of age by country, region, and worldwide, and to compare the ratios with those for women in other 5-year age groups. Read more...

 

Busting Myths: Do Health Systems Deliver for Women?

By: Margaret Kruk & Nana A.Y. Twum-Danso; Originally posted on Impatient Optimists 

Maternal mortality is declining globally but remains persistently high in sub-Saharan Africa: the region contributes 56 percent of all maternal deaths each year. This has been attributed to the low number of women delivering with a skilled birth attendant, which results in many women dying at home or arriving at health facilities too late to be saved. To increase the number of women who have access to skilled providers during childbirth, low-income countries have worked to bring childbirth services to primary care facilities that are close to home. Typically these community clinics are meant to be staffed with nurses and midwives trained to provide basic obstetric care, although in practice, skilled providers are difficult to attract and retain in rural areas. In this model, the vast majority of women are expected to deliver at these community clinics, while women with high-risk pregnancies or those who develop complications in labor are referred to hospitals. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Zambia and Uganda Reduce Maternal Mortality by One Third in One Year

by: Lindsay Menard-Freeman, Women Deliver

Maternal mortality is regarded as an indicator of the overall functioning of health systems. That’s to say that when women are to dying in pregnancy and childbirth, it’s crucial to look at how services are delivered. The year one evaluation of Saving Mothers, Giving Life reveals a significant reduction in number of women dying in pregnancy & childbirth due to the a focus on services delivered at these critical points: labor, delivery, and the first 48 hours postpartum. Read more...

CFR Launches Interactive Guide on Child Marriage

Originally posted by Council on Foreign Relations

A new interactive guide from the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) examines the threat that child marriage poses both to the prosperity and stability of the countries in which it is prevalent and to U.S. development and foreign policy interests. "Child marriage is linked to poor health, curtailed education, violence, and instability, and perpetuates an intergenerational cycle of poverty that is difficult to break, as the InfoGuide shows," said CFR Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy Rachel B. Vogelstein, formerly director of policy and senior adviser on global women's issues at the U.S. State Department. "Its effects harm not only girls but entire families, communities, and economies—and U.S. interests around the world." Read more...

Merck for Mothers Working to End the Tragedy of Women in America Dying in Childbirth and Pregnancy

Originally posted at Merck for Mothers

Initial commitment of $6 million dedicated to addressing growing U.S. problem

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Nov. 19, 2013 – Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, today announced that Merck for Mothers has launched programs aimed at decreasing the number of women across the United States who die from or suffer severe complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. The maternal mortality rate in this country has nearly doubled since 1990, despite significant progress in reducing rates globally.  In addition, more than 50,000 women a year in the United States – one every 10 minutes – nearly die from a severe complication they experience during pregnancy or childbirth. Read more...

An Africa Fit for Women and Girls

By: Yemurai Nyoni, Women Deliver 100 Young Leader; Originally posted on allAfrica

I believe in an Africa that is fit for women and girls; that protects their well-being and creates a supportive environment for them to realise their aspirations. As I look at the work done by African states in pursuit of gender equality, I am convinced that the continent is either on course for another dismal episode in the empowerment of women, or it's on the brink of a women's rights revolution.

The failure of African leadership in safeguarding the rights of women thus far has resulted in a sad state of affairs, where being a young African woman is perhaps the most perilous form of identity in the continent. Read more...

Global Leaders Call for Accelerated Progress on Family Planning at Women Deliver 2013

Melinda Gates, Babatunde Osotimehin and others highlight progress in expanding contraceptive access

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29 May 2013 – On the second day of Women Deliver 2013, the largest conference on girls and women of the decade, global leaders announced progress and new commitments toward expanding contraceptive access for women in developing countries. They also outlined plans for sustaining this momentum in the years to come. Read more...

Girls’ & Women’s Health and Rights in Focus at Women Deliver 2013 in Kuala Lumpur

Malaysian Prime Minister Honourable Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak and other global luminaries
open largest conference on girls and women of the decade

World Bank and Guttmacher Institute release new data on the value of investing in girls and women

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 28 May 2013 — Today, more than 4,000 global leaders and advocates from nearly 150 countries gathered in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for Women Deliver 2013, the largest conference of the decade focused on the health and wellbeing of girls and women. The opening sessions of this three-day event highlighted the critical need to invest in girls and women to spur development worldwide.

Malaysian Prime Minister Honorable Dato' Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Abdul Razak delivered welcoming remarks and discussed Malaysia’s efforts to ensure equal rights and opportunities for women as a critical component of the nation’s development and economic growth. The Prime Minister highlighted Malaysia’s success in reducing maternal mortality, and offered to share lessons learned with countries working to improve maternal health. Read more...

Women’s Rights in Global Cartoons

By: Liza Donnelly, Forbes Contributor; Originally posted on Forbes

The global advocacy group, Women Deliver, is hosting its third conference, May 28-30, 2013, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This conference brings together thousands of activists, world leaders, healthcare professionals, corporate leaders, NGOs and global media outlets from around the world to discuss how to help improve the lives of women and girls. For the event, I was honored to be invited to curate an exhibit of international cartoonist’s art on the subject of women’s rights. The artwork, gathered from cartoonists from 22 different countries, is also collected and published in a book, titled, “Women Deliver, The World Receives.” It was wonderful to be given the opportunity to invite my colleagues to submit their artwork on the subject of women and women’s rights. Cartoons can get at the heart of difficult and important subjects in ways that words often cannot. It takes a village, and the village usually has a cartoonist or two. Read more...

Women Deliver Catalyzes Conversations With Young People about Reproductive Health

By: Purnima Mane, President and CEO of Pathfinder International; Originally posted on Huffington Post

The first official day of the 3rd annual Women Deliver Conference just wrapped up. Perhaps the biggest takeaway here so far is the incredible presence and engagement of young people.

More than 100 young leaders have travelled from around the world to share their experiences, energy, and wisdom. Each of these young leaders is working to improve the health and well-being of women and girls in their communities. They joined a catalyzing pre-conference event on Monday that inspired Pathfinder's Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Advisor Callie Simon to share, "These young leaders here rock my world. Days like these that make it all worth it." Read more...

Getting Down to Business: Harnessing the Reach of the Private Sector to Deliver Affordable, Quality

By: Dr. Priya Agrawal, Executive Director, Merck for Mothers

As the saying goes, “If better is possible, good is not enough.” This is certainly the case with efforts to reduce maternal mortality, which is not declining fast enough.

One area where I believe we can do “better” in delivering maternal health services is within the local private health sector.

In many developing countries – like India, Nigeria, and Uganda – most people get their healthcare from private providers. When people are in need of care, they often turn to a local doctor or nurse because of flexible hours; or visit a nearby pharmacy because it’s convenient; or perhaps even get care from a community health worker traveling door-to-door who they know and trust. Read more...

Young Leaders Can Change the World – One Girl at a Time

By: Victoria Melhado, Women Deliver Young Leader 2013

Victoria is one of 100 Young Leaders from around the world selected to participate in a leadership development program as part of the 2013 Women Deliver conference in Kuala Lumpur, May 27-30, 2013. The youth pre-conference is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Follow Victoria during the conference at @Vicmelhado.

My path to becoming a nurse, midwife, and an advocate for women’s health began before I knew what any of those things were. Read more...  

Fistula’s Youngest Victims

By: Kate Gilmore, Deputy Executive Director (Programme) of United Nations Population Fund; Originally posted on Huffington Post

In my role at the United Nations Population Fund, I have the privilege to travel to urban, rural and remote locations to see the range of efforts being made so that every woman might give birth safely and in dignity, supported by midwives or other skilled attendants. But in many countries, a safe labor and delivery for mother and child is still a lottery -- a roll of the dice. When services are not available, when skilled birth attendants are not in reach, when information is not provided or distance or poverty or discrimination or isolation means a pregnant woman is without access to support, the consequences can be grave, indeed. Read more...

The Lancet: Women Deliver Special Issue

The Lancet today [Friday 17 May, 2013] publishes a special theme issue ahead of the 2013 Women Deliver conference, to be held May 28 – 30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Women Deliver brings together voices from around the world to call for action to improve the health and well-being of girls and women, and the latest issue of The Lancet highlights some of the latest research and views on maternal health. Read more...

Partner Spotlight: Let Us See to Our Invisible Women

By: Paula R DeCola, External Medical Affairs,  Pfizer Inc

It has been quite a journey leading up to this third Women Deliver (WD) conference. In London 2007, the WD conference focused on advocating for better progress in reducing maternal mortality, since the numbers of deaths were the same as those reported at the 1995 Beijing World Conference on Women. Then onto WD conference 2009 in Washington DC, where we saw a decline in maternal deaths in a number of high burden countries, and of course campaigning for continued progress, as well as for expanding advocacy to encompass the insidious neglect of the girl child. Read more...

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