With Mother’s Day just a few weeks away on Sunday, May 12th, thoughts turn to the place mothers hold in our hearts and in society. Whether we always agree with them (or not), mothers are our rocks, our sounding boards, and our landing pads. They show us, train us and teach us. The power of women to give us life and shape our lives is an amazing one that deserves recognition, celebration, and respect.
Unfortunately, when it comes to funding in health care, however, women’s issues (and therefore maternal health issues) often don’t take center stage.
DID YOU KNOW?
AFTER INCREASING FOR DECADES, U.S. FUNDING FOR MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH IS NOW DECLINING
- The U.S. government (U.S.) has been involved in supporting global maternal and child health (MCH) efforts for more than 50 years and is the largest donor government to MCH activities in the world, in addition to being the single largest donor to nutrition efforts in the world.
- U.S. funding to address maternal and child health issues declined last year from $830 Million (spent in 2018) to $620 Million (requested in 2019). This is despite the fact that 18,000 more children and 650 more mothers survive each day, today, than was the case in 1990. (Source: Interaction, January 2019).
INTERVENTIONS WORK BUT ONLY IF WOMEN HAVE ACCESS TO THEM
Although effective interventions are available to support maternal and child health and wellness, and reduce morbidity and mortality, lack of funding and limited access to services have hampered progress, particularly on maternal health.
- Millions of pregnant women, new mothers, and children experience severe illness or death each year, largely from preventable or treatable causes.
- Almost all maternal and child deaths (99%) occur in less developed regions, with Africa being the hardest hit region. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hardest hit region in the world, followed by Oceania and Southern Asia; altogether these areas account for more than 80% of maternal and under-five deaths.
- Key interventions that reduce the risk of maternal mortality include skilled care at birth and emergency obstetric care.
- Newborn deaths may be substantially reduced through increased use of simple, low-cost interventions, such as breastfeeding, keeping newborns warm and dry, and treating severe newborn infections. When scaled-up, interventions such as immunizations, oral rehydration therapy (ORT), and insecticide-treated mosquito nets (ITNs) have contributed to significant reductions in child morbidity and mortality over the last two decades. Other effective child health interventions include improved access to and use of clean water, sanitation, and hygiene practices like handwashing; improved nutrition; and the treatment of neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).
- Strengthening health systems and increasing access to services, including through community-based clinics, are also important in improving health and reducing the risk of maternal death since interventions have been found to be most effective when integrated within a comprehensive continuum of care.
Source: Kaiser Family Foundation
DESPITE PROGRESS, 2.5% OF WOMEN ARE STILL DYING IN CHILD BIRTH IN LESS DEVELOPED COUNTRIES
- Each year, 303,000 women die during childbirth.
- The lifetime risk of maternal death in high-income countries is 1 in 3,300. In low-income countries it is 1 in 41.
- Inadequate care during pregnancy and high fertility rates, often due to a lack of access to contraception and other family planning/reproductive health (FP/RH) services, increase the lifetime risk of maternal death. The percentage of pregnant women receiving the recommended minimum number of four antenatal care visits is only 52% in developing countries and lower still in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia.
- More than a quarter (27%) of all maternal deaths are due to severe bleeding, mostly after childbirth (postpartum hemorrhage). Diseases that complicate pregnancy, including malaria, anemia, and HIV account for about 28% of maternal deaths. Sepsis (11%), unsafe abortion (8%), and hypertension (14%) are other major causes.
BUT THERE IS HOPE IN COLLABORATION AROUND THIS GLOBAL ISSUE
- While globally, we missed making the 2015 United Nation’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG), under-five mortality has fallen by 53% and maternal mortality by 45% compared to 1990 levels.
- Global MCH targets were adopted in 2015 and aim to, by 2030 to reduce the global Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) to less than 70 per 100,000 live births, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five (12/1000 for newborns, 25/1000 for under five) as well as end all forms of malnutrition.
- Among the global efforts designed to support countries’ progress toward meeting these goals is Every Woman, Every Child (EWEC) movement launched in 2010 which aims to operationalize the 2015 Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health by combining the efforts of global partners.
- The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health (PMNCH), is a global alliance aiming to “provide a platform for organizations to align objectives, strategies and resources, and agree on interventions to improve maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health”.
- And in 2014, USAID announced a program goal of saving 15 million child lives and 600,000 women’s lives from 2012 through 2020 in 25 priority countries, which account for about 70% of the global maternal and child deaths.
- The Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) movement, is another initiative that aims to bring together partner efforts to support households and women, in particular, recognizing that nutrition, maternal health, and child survival are closely linked.
For more information about U.S. and global efforts to improve the health and well-being of mothers and their children, please visit Kaiser Family Foundation’s research synopsis about global Maternal and Child Health, January 2019.