More than 4.5 million women and children die each year during pregnancy, childbirth or the first few weeks after birth: it is about one death every 7 seconds And the causes are usually preventable or treatable. To raise the alarm is a new report from WHO and Unicef, which points out that “global progress in reducing premature deaths of pregnant women, new mothers and children has stalled for 8 years due to declining investment”. The numbers of the report “Improving maternal and newborn health and survival and reducing stillbirths”, released at a conference in South Africa, show how progress in improving survival has stalled since 2015: every year in the world there are about 290,000 maternal deaths, 1.9 million stillbirths and as many as 2.3 million neonatal deaths, i.e. that occur during the first month of life.
The Covid pandemic, rising poverty and worsening humanitarian crises have intensified pressures on struggling health systems. Only one in 10 countries say they have sufficient funds to implement the plans. Fewer than a third have neonatal care units sufficient to care for young and sick babies. In the countries of sub-Saharan Africa and central and southern Asia, the regions with the highest burden of neonatal and maternal deaths, less than 60% of women receive at least 4 of the 8 recommended prenatal checks. Only about 60% of women make their own sexual and reproductive health decisions. “We continue to die at unacceptably high rates and the COVID-19 pandemic has created further setbacks in providing them with the health care they need,” said Anshu Banerjee, director of maternal and newborn health at the World Health Organization. . “After the pandemic, newborns and women living in fragile countries are facing the heaviest consequences of diminishing efforts to provide quality and affordable health care,” said Steven Lauwerier, UNICEF director of health.
“The death of any woman or girl during pregnancy or childbirth is a serious violation of their human rights,” she notes Julitta Onabanjo, director of the Technical Division of the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA). It also reflects the urgent need to increase access to quality sexual and reproductive health services as part of universal health coverage and primary health care, especially in communities where maternal mortality rates are low. remained unchanged or even increased in recent years We need to adopt a human rights-based and gender-imbalanced change approach to addressing maternal and newborn mortality, and it is crucial to eliminate the factors underlying poor maternal health outcomes, such as inequalities socio-economic conditions, discrimination, poverty and injustice”.
To increase survival ratesthe agencies explain that women and newborns must be able to count on quality health care and affordable prices before, during and after childbirth, as well as access to family planning services. More skilled and motivated health workers are needed, especially obstetricians, as well as essential medicines and supplies, safe water and reliable electricity. To improve maternal and newborn health, it is necessary to address gender norms, prejudices and inequalities.
On current trends, more than 60 countries will fail to meet the targets for reducing maternal, newborn and stillbirth mortality under the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.