Monday, September 22, 2008

Moms Need More Respect

The numbers have been dismally steady at around 500,000 deaths per year but now UNICEF is urging greater focus on maternal mortality. What changed?

One of the most shocking things I learned while at Harvard’s School of Public Health is how unpopular maternal mortality is as an issue in the global health world.

Partly that's a result of politics and funding priorities--kids are cuter (and easier to fund) than moms.

Partly it's because saving a woman's life during pregnancy is not just a simple matter of vaccinations or nutritional supplements. You need basic health care, good roads, some kind of communication system (radio or cell phone) so that women who develop problems during pregnancy get referred to the right place for a C-section or treatment for dangerously high blood pressure or bleeding.

And, something that no one likes to admit, the way certain AIDS programs are designed actually makes it harder to save women's lives.

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