BlessWorld Foundation International

Affecting the World Through Health
A Global Health Initiative

Global Health and Maternal Health




Motherhood is often a positive and fulfilling experience, however, it is accompanied by so much suffering, depression, ill-health or even death, for many women. The period around birth is a significant window of opportunity for prevention and management of maternal and newborn complications, which can otherwise become fatal.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Maternal health refers the health of women during the period of pregnancy, childbirth and following childbirth (postpartum). In 2015, an estimated 303,000 women died of complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Sadly, many of these deaths could have been prevented by well known and effective medical interventions. Unfortunately, in most of the affected countries- usually developing countries, women lack access to quality care before, during and after childbirth. The WHO’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 is to improve the quality of maternal health and set the goals of reducing maternal mortality by 75% through universal access to reproductive health.

In developed countries, even though maternal health has significantly improved in the 21st century, women still die or have intense complications in pregnancy yearly. Notwithstanding advances in medicine and medical technologies, data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that the rate of pregnancy-related deaths in developed countries such as the United States has increased in the last 25 years. Implicated complications include infections (including flu), bleeding, blood clots, heart conditions and high blood pressure.

More recently, although the risk of dying of pregnancy complications has more recently reduced in general, some women remain at higher risk than others. For instance, older women are at a higher risk of complications and death due to pregnancy compared to their younger counterparts. Specifically, women aged 35 to 39 are almost twice as likely to die of pregnancy complications as women aged 20 to 24. This risk becomes higher for women aged 40 or older.

Emphasis on maternal health acknowledges the fact that women have the right to health. This shows that access to quality sexual, reproductive and maternal health is fundamental to both human right and development. Therefore, improving sexual, reproductive and maternal health should be central to the world’s commitment to gender equality and poverty alleviation. To achieve large scale and sustainable improvements in maternal health, underlying and systemic factors- including gender inequality, access to healthcare, cost of health services, policy barriers and power imbalances, which all have an impact on maternal health, must be addressed. Also, to eliminate every preventable maternal death, an understanding of maternal health as a right to health should be promoted through antenatal care, emergency obstetric care, skilled health attendance at delivery and improved access to healthcare for intending and recent mothers.

Comments are closed.