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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.

Health Systems are Failing the World’s Women

Despite progress, health system shortfalls and gender discrimination are severely impacting women’s health worldwide, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) report Women and Health: Today’s Evidence, Tomorrow’s Agenda.

Afghanistan Trains New Midwives

This weekend, the Christian Science Monitor published an article called, “Amid war Afghanistan trains thousands of new midwives.” The article says:

Pashtoon Azfar, head of the Afghan Midwives Association, says the number of trained midwives has grown nearly six-fold since rebuilding effort in Afghanistan began. “In 2002, we had 467 midwives, but no one knew how qualified they were; for years, they had received no access to training,” says Ms. Azfar, also a midwifery specialist with the international nonprofit health organization Jhpiego, whose maternal health programs are funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Today, there are more than 2,400 midwives around the country who have been trained in a standardized and accredited two-year program, she says.

Dangers of Malaria During Pregnancy

Yesterday, the world’s largest malaria conference, The 5th Multilateral Initiative on Malaria (MIM) Pan-African Conference, opened with a call for substantial and sustained support for research to guide evidence-based policies and the development of new malaria tools, which together could save countless lives. Watch this interview video with Dr. Rose Leke, University of Yaounde 1, Cameroon, where she discusses the dangers of malaria during pregnancy — and how to prevent it.

High Level Meeting on Maternal Mortality - Youth Experience

Below is the speech delivered by Imane Khachani, MD, Msc, from the Youth Coalition for Sexual and Reproductive Rights for the High-Level Meeting at the International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action.

World Delegates Affirm Family Planning at High-Level Meeting

Addis Ababa — Ending the needless death and suffering of women during pregnancy is one of the greatest moral, human rights and development challenges of our time, agreed more than 150 delegates that met at the High-Level Meeting on Maternal Health. Facing that challenge requires concrete action to protect and fulfill everyone’s right to sexual and reproductive health, they declared.

Fight For Your Right to Maternal Health

This blog-post was originally published at Conversations for a Better World, a shared blog on population gender and health.

Women around the world have had to struggle for decades, for centuries, to achieve equal rights and to achieve the human rights every man and woman deserves. And while the struggle has resulted in many positive steps forward, there are still areas where women are considered less than their male counterparts.

Restrictive Abortion Laws Account for Maternal Deaths

New York – Increased contraceptive use has led to fewer abortions worldwide, but deaths from unsafe abortion remain a severe problem, killing 70,000 women a year, according to a major global survey from the Guttmacher Institute.

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