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Good News and Bad in Countdown 2015 Progress Report

By Joanne Omang

WASHINGTON, June 8 – Despite some encouraging signs,  a “dramatic acceleration” of investment and action will be required if the world is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals related to maternal and child health by the 2015 deadline, the global tracking project Countdown to 2015 reported here today.

In new research findings released at the three-day Women Deliver 2010 conference here, the report said only 19 of the 68 countries being followed are on track to achieve MDG 4, reducing child deaths by three-quarters by 2015, and only five will achieve MDG 5, lowering mothers’ deaths by the same percentage. Ten countries actually lost ground in the past five years, the study said.  more...

Every Mother Counts

By: Christy Turlington, originally posted on The Huffington Post
Christy Turlington previewed her film, NO WOMAN, NO CRY Monday night at the Women Deliver 2010 conferernce

This week, nearly 3,000 people from more than 140 countries are gathering in downtown Washington D.C. as part of the world's largest international meeting of women's health and empowerment champions -- the Women Deliver Conference. At this critical time, these passionate and committed advocates are here to deliver a message that sustainable development around the globe can only be achieved if we prevent maternal deaths.

After the last Women Deliver Conference in 2007, I had my second child, traveled abroad to Peru with CARE as their Advocate for Maternal Health, and set out to make a documentary film about maternal mortality first-hand that hundreds of thousands of women die every year from pregnancy and childbirth complications, making reproductive health problems the leading cause of death worldwide among women ages 15 to 44; yet strikingly, experts estimate that 90% of these are preventable. The impact extends beyond individual lives. In fact each year millions of children are orphaned, and motherless children are twice as likely to die before the age of five. Economies suffer as well, with an estimated $15 billion lost in productivity each year.  more...

To Deliver, Women Must Push

By Joanne Omang

WASHINGTON, June 7 -- Racial disparities in U.S. maternal mortality rates are “unacceptable and unconscionable” and will be addressed by recent health care reform legislation, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told the Women Deliver 2010 conference here today.

African American women die from pregnancy-related causes at a rate three times greater than white women do, a “pretty alarming” finding for which remedies are “long overdue,” Sebelius said.  Speaking at a panel discussion to 3,000 conference participants at closing plenary on the first day of the three-day session, Sebelius called mothers’ deaths “a moral dilemma and a political dilemma” that the Obama administration is addressing at many levels.  more...

Gates Foundation Commits $1.5 Billion for Maternal Health

Originally posted on Seattle Times

Calling on world health leaders to do more to prevent deaths of mothers and their newborn babies, Melinda Gates said today the Gates Foundation is pledging $1.5 billion over the next five years for family planning, maternal and child health and nutrition in developing countries.
 
It's the second largest donation in the foundation's history, after a $10 billion pledge over 10 years for vaccine development and delivery made in January.

The Lancet Devotes Entire Themed Issue to Women Deliver

Large numbers of the public remain unaware of the health issues facing women and children. Women and girls make up 60% of the world’s poorest and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate. Yet with education and empowerment, they can lead healthy lives and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. To devise a plan to make women and children’s health more visible, we must listen harder to voices from those countries where most maternal and child death take place. Too often we ignore these voices. A themed issue of The Lancet covers a range of global issues on maternal, child, and newborn health.

Click here to read the entire issue and articles

Maternal Mortality: It’s Time for Our Leaders to Take Notice

By Martha Wainwright

Source: The Huffington Post

My story had a happy ending. Thousands more mothers would too if world leaders stick to a promise they made 40 years ago.

Once upon a time, I was working in the UK and seven months pregnant with my first child. After a show one evening, not feeling 100 percent, my husband Brad took me home to the place we were staying at in North London. I had been excited to get my last week of work over with and go home to the U.S. to prepare for our new arrival. But that night everything came crashing down. All plans flew out the window and Brad and I found ourselves in the emergency room at 2 a.m.

I was admitted right away, which scared me of course, and taken to the maternity unit. I was in pain and bleeding, but I felt calm -- believing, naively, that I was going to get out and still have a normal pregnancy. A midwife visited us and then the consultant. Then the pain became sharper, and my water broke. I yelled and the mood in the room went from calm and jovial to scary and serious. Brad took my hand and we realized that we weren't going anywhere.

Maternal Health Conference Examines Progress, Challenges; Pushes Donors Toward US$12 Billion

Women Deliver features global leaders from nearly 140 countries, including advocates, UN agencies, researchers, government officials, ministers of health and finance, and first ladies.

The world’s largest conference on women’s health and empowerment in more than a decade opens on Monday, June 7, with a call to increase funding commitments for maternal, reproductive, and newborn health by US$12 billion each year. At Women Deliver 2010, more than 3,000 representatives from nearly 140 countries will highlight the urgent need to save the lives of the 350,000-500,000 women who die from pregnancy- and childbirth-related causes each year, citing new economic rationale for investing in women.

Special Edition of The Lancet for Women Deliver

Large numbers of the public remain unaware of the health issues facing women and children. Women and girls make up 60% of the world’s poorest and two-thirds of the world’s illiterate. Yet with education and empowerment, they can lead healthy lives and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. This week a themed issue of The Lancet covers a range of global issues on maternal, child, and newborn health.

A New Role for Africans in Global Maternal Health

By Dr. Fred Sai, co-host of Women Deliver 2010 and former advisor to the Ghanaian government on reproductive health and HIV/AIDS. You can follow the live stream of the Women Deliver 2010 conference from June 7th to 9th at www.womendeliver.org/webcast.

Originally posted at ONE blog.

This March, the Lancet released new statistics that revealed an unprecedented drop in the number of women who die every year during pregnancy and childbirth. The study found that from 1980 to 2008, maternal deaths globally have fallen from 500,000 each year to 340,000. Having spent some 40 years working on women and children’s health in Ghana and across Africa, I welcomed this progress. But as the world celebrated, I also couldn’t help but wonder, “Where is Africa?”

A Message from Sarah Brown, Global Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance

By: Sarah Brown, Global Patron of the White Ribbon Alliance

As you meet in Washington DC this week, there are some very encouraging signs of progress on maternal health which we all want to improve further. The issue is on the international political agenda as never before; new global figures suggest maternal mortality rates are coming down in some places, and we have seen in recent years how the movement for change is rapidly growing around the world. There are today many thousands of White Ribbon Alliance members now in 150 countries around the world uniting to press for change and holding leaders to account for their promises.

Collecting Stories of Mothers and Babies Saved

At the Women Deliver 2010 conference, White Ribbon Alliance along with UNFPA will be debuting a multimedia exhibition called, "Stories of Mothers Saved." To celebrate the exhibit, they are hosting a countdown to Women Deliver with blog posts from people all over the world who have contributed to their multimedia exhibition. These blog posts include, Francois Zoungrana from Burkina Faso, Jameel Aldrbashi from Palestine, Smita Maniar from India, and Ahsan Mehboob from Pakistan.

Dying for Life-Pulitzer Center’s New Maternal Mortality Resources

Today the Pulitzer Center, a nonprofit that sponsors and produces award-winning international journalism, launched a new interactive site focused on maternal mortality issues, "Dying for Life".

Delivering A Better Future For Women And Girls

By Dr. Fred Sai
(Dr. Fred Sai, was a former adviser to the Ghanaian Government on Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS and is currently the honarary co-chair of the Women Deliver 2010 conference)

This article was published in Ghanaian Times, Modern Ghana, and The Nigerian Voice

Theresa wakes up at the first glimmer of sun in the morning. It is Monday, the beginning of the week, and the first day of class at the school where she is a teacher. She baths and feeds her two children, Kofi and Naana. Together, they walk the short distance to the school, stopping to visit an elderly woman who Theresa and her women’s group at church support. When she arrives at school, Theresa gathers her forty-five class 5 pupils into the small classroom and begins a new year of lessons.

When I met Theresa in her small town just weeks ago, she struck me as one of the millions of women who deliver enormous benefits to our country, families and children every single day. Women like Theresa teach our children in school; they sell goods in the market; and they work in our banks, hospitals, and health centers. These women, increasingly left alone to their fate by absentee spouses or boyfriends, also carry and deliver our children—the future of our country.

Celebrate Mother’s Day: News Round-Up

Did you see all the amazing Mother’s Day articles that called attention to global maternal health and the need to provide for the hundreds of thousands of mothers who die in pregnancy and childbirth every year? Below are some of the highlights. A big thank you to every journalist, blogger, and author who chose to celebrate Mother's Day by drawing attention to the problem of maternal mortality around the world.

Serra Sippel Blogs on Maternal Mortality Decrease

Last week, Serra Sippel, president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity in Washington, D.C., posted a blog on the Huffington Post about the new maternal mortality figures released in the Lancet. As the title of her blog suggests, these figures are good news, but the "Maternal Mortality Decrease is not 'Mission Accomplished'." As she says in her post,

"While the decrease in the maternal mortality ratio reported yesterday by the Lancet  is a victory, it is anything but a "mission accomplished." We are not off the hook--the same report also documented that HIV is responsible for more than 60,000 maternal deaths each year. The US--whose maternal mortality rate ranks 41st in the world, tying with Serbia and Montenegro--still has a responsibility to prevent maternal death. No woman should die giving birth, in the US or abroad." Read more...

UN Secretary-General Launches Global Effort on Women’s Health

UNITED NATIONS, NEW YORK, 14 April – With only five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is announcing the development of a Joint Action Plan for accelerating progress on maternal and newborn health.

“No woman should die bringing life into the world,” said Secretary-General Ban. We must create a seamless continuum of care that helps to improve the health of women from pregnancy through childbirth and builds the foundation for a healthy society.”

Every year, hundreds of thousands of women and girls die in pregnancy or childbirth, and another 10-15 million suffer severe or long-lasting illnesses or disabilities caused by complications.  The Joint Action Plan will bring together key partners -- including Governments, foundations, the corporate sector, civil society, and United Nations agencies -- in a targeted effort to improve the health of women and children.

Women Deliver Response to Lancet Data

Lancet Report Indicates Dramatic Drop in Global Maternal Mortality Figures, but Increases in US and Canada

A new study in the Lancet reports that maternal deaths have fallen by more than 35 percent over the past 30 years, offering one of the first indicators that investment in maternal health programs is having measurable effects. The Women Deliver conference, June 7-9 in Washington DC, will gather global leaders in a historic effort to push policymakers to build on momentum and increase funding for proven maternal health programs by at least $12 billion per year through 2015.

Toronto Star Examines Cost Of Fighting Maternal Mortality, Canada’s G8 Initiative

Experts say that fighting maternal mortality will cost the world a total of $24 billion annually, or an additional $12 billion per year, the Toronto Star wrote in an article about Canada's G8 maternal and child health initiative and Women Deliver.

Jill Sheffield, president of Women Deliver, said, "We know how much it's going to cost to do this. And it's $12-billion additional each year to what we're doing now."

Maternal Health Task Force: Funding Opportunity

The Maternal Health Task Force has asked us to distribute a request for letters of intent to submit funding proposals that will focus on indigenous developing country initiatives. Through this request, they are seeking innovative ideas from non-profit NGOs based in developing countries working to improve maternal health in their communities.

Mobile Phones: A New Tool for Saving Women’s Lives

Cell phones have cut dramatically the number of women dying during childbirth in Amensie village in south-central Ghana, according to an article posted on AlertNet.

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