Calls for action over maternal deaths as UN figures show slow recent progress

By: Liz Ford; Originally posted on The Guardian

The number of women dying in childbirth has dropped by almost 44% over the past 25 years, according to the latest UN figures. But women’s rights activists said the figures were disappointing.The number of maternal deaths fell from an estimated 532,000 to 303,000. Read More... 

Celebrate Solutions: How an App is Changing the Lives of Mothers & Newborns in Africa

By: Brittany Tatum, Women Deliver

Imagine you are birth attendant in a remote clinic in Africa. While helping a mother give birth, she begins to bleed - what do you do? You may not have clean, running water, or even electricity. You do, however, have a mobile phone. What does this mean for you and for the safety of the mother and the newborn? It means that you have access to mobile health interventions, such as The Safe Delivery App. Read More...

Celebrate Solutions: Creating a “One-Stop Shop” to Encourage Postpartum Contraception

By: Claire Watt Rothschild, Jacaranda Health

Everyone said she could not become pregnant while breastfeeding. This is what Wanjiru*, a new mother, told a nurse midwife at Jacaranda Health’s Ruiru maternity hospital.  When she became pregnant just 3 months after the birth of her first baby, she felt lied to. Family planning use in the first year after childbirth – known as the postpartum period – is both essential and rare in Kenya. At Jacaranda Health, the aim is to make family planning acceptable and convenient for new mothers and their families in a setting where 90 percent of women are not using postpartum family planning at all or until after they are already at risk of pregnancy. Read more...

Invest in Every Woman Every Child to save a generation within a generation

By Amina J Mohammed; Originally posted on Devex

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened health leaders and experts from over 30 countries to solidify a plan of action so that by 2030, no woman, newborn, child or adolescent dies from causes we know how to prevent, and that they all thrive to realize the future they want and deserve.

Some may say these are ambitious goals. But is it achievable? We think it is.

In 2010, the secretary-general launched the Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health and a movement driven by shared responsibility, Every Woman Every Child, to help accelerate the achievement of the health-related Millennium Development Goals. Read More...

Maternal and newborn health take the spotlight at the World Health Assembly

By: Rima Jolivet; Originally posted on Maternal Health Task Force 

In an important development for the global maternal health community, the long-awaited Strategies toward Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) will be launched at the 68th World Health Assembly, at an event hosted by Cameroon and Malawi and co-sponsored by the contributors to the Every Newborn Action Plan. Read More...

Women Deliver CEO Joins the Secretary General & Other Global Leaders to Improve the Future of Health

By: Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver

This week, Women Deliver’s CEO, Katja Iversen, and a select group of influencers – including government ministers, UN representatives and civil society leaders – are attending the Greentree Retreat to discuss one of the most pressing development issues of our time: the future of women’s, children’s and adolescent’s health.
The new Global Strategy builds on the action sparked by Every Woman Every Child (EWEC), which has been the fastest growing public health partnership in history, with $34 billion in commitments dispersed to strengthen women and children’s health since 2010. Unprecedented progress has been made in improving the lives of women and children around the world over the last five years and EWEC has been credited with helping to save the lives of 2.4 million women and children in 49 countries.  Read More...


Bloomberg Showcases Devastating Maternal Care in India

A heartbreaking story in today’s news highlights the devastating impact of India’s poor treatment of women, especially as they prepare for childbirth. Emphasizing the abysmal care for one young mother, the story reinforces the international affront of the November expose of women who were giving forced sterilizations. This time, however, the story is even more telling, as bribery, corruption and heartless care impact the ultimate and sadly predictable poor outcome for both mother and child.

Women Deliver’s CEO, Katja Iverson says, “Losing a woman due to complications in pregnancy or childbirth is a tragedy. Every time. Whether in India or in any country of the world, it is a loss for families, as well as nations. re India, focusing on social accountability programs as a way to improve the quality of maternal care and a mechanism for more effective policy implementation. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Driving Change and Saving Lives in India

By: Lauren Himiak, Women Deliver

Imagine waking in the middle of the night choking, unable to breathe, scared, and unsure what to do. One’s first response may be to call for an ambulance, but what if none were available? This was the case in 2004 for Shaffi Mather whose mother awoke to this terrifying situation in India. Unsure of what to do, Mather’s family drover her to the hospital themselves. Just a few days later, a similar situation happened to Ravi Krishna, but in New York where a 911 ambulance was on the scene within minutes. Seeing firsthand such a stark contrast of availability and accessibility of standardized emergency medical services (EMS), Mather and Krishna decided to act. Read more...

Disrespect and Abuse During Maternity Care Keep Women from Seeking Facility Births

By: Koki Agarwal, Director, MCHIP and forward by Katie Millar, Technical Writer, MHTF

This post is part of the Maternal and Newborn Integration Blog Series, which shares themes of and reactions to the “Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health: In Pursuit of Quality” technical meeting.

Forward: In the following post, Dr. Agarwal speaks of an unfortunately common problem between health workers and mothers: disrespect and abuse. This problem and its solution—respectful maternity care—play a role not only in health outcomes for the mother, but for the baby as well. At the Integration of Maternal and Newborn Health technical meeting, Rima Jolivet and Jeff Smith reviewed research that showed emotional support during labor significantly decreases:

  • The need for pain medication during labor
  • The rate of prolonged labor, labor complications, episiotomies, caesarean sections, low apgar scores, lack of exclusive breastfeeding, and severe postpartum depression
  • The risk of newborn sepsis

The Power of Peer Education

These seed grants were funded by Johnson & Johnson and WomanCare Global via the Women Deliver C Exchange Youth Initiative.

By: Humphrey Nabimanya, Reach a Hand Uganda

From a survey that we at RAHU conducted last year, nearly 85% of young people, ages 15-24, think that there is a need for them to whether freely access information on sexual and reproductive health. Young people face issues like unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections, and cross-generational sex and, therefore, require full access to sexual and reproductive health information and services to protect themselves.

In January 2014, we started the first ever Peer Education Academy in Uganda - a unique initiative to empower young people with life development skills, self-awareness skills, and sexual reproductive health and rights information. Through this program, we trained 50 young people (23 female and 27 male) in peer education; counseling and guidance; sexual and reproductive health and rights; drug, alcohol, and substance use; and integration of social media and sexuality education. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Government Initiative Improves Abortion and Post-Abortion Care in Ghana

By: Sara Pellegrom, Women Deliver

Although Ghana has one of the most progressive abortion laws in sub-Saharan Africa, mortality from unsafe abortion is still a problem. The 2010 maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Ghana was 350 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared to an average MMR of 240 in the developing world. One of the largest contributors to maternal deaths are complications from unsafe abortions. The 2007 Ghana Maternal Health Survey estimates that approximately 40% of abortions are performed by untrained providers. Evidence also suggests that many health care providers are not aware of the abortion law. Others may feel that performing an abortion conflicts with their religious beliefs. This lack of knowledge, along with social stigma that surrounds women seeking an abortion, drives the practice underground, resulting in clandestine procedures that are often performed by untrained providers or attempts at a self-induced abortion. Read more...

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...

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