Brazil is top of the world on an environmental issue – recycling

January 22, 2009

Links I liked: mobiles v coke; Obama’s Mandela moment etc

January 22, 2009

Pregnancy and childbirth still killing 500,000 women a year, nearly all in Africa and South Asia

January 22, 2009
empty image
empty image

Gender injustice is toxic to development, nowhere more clearly than in the stark fact that having a child remains one of the biggest health risks for women worldwide. Fifteen hundred women die every day from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. That’s half a million women every year, and the number has hardly budged in two decades, according to UNICEF’s flagship publication, The State of the World’s Children 2009, just published.

The difference in pregnancy risk between women in developing countries and their peers in the industrialized world is perhaps the greatest health divide in the world. On average, a woman in a least developed country is 300 times more likely to die than one in an industrialized country. A woman in Niger has a one in seven chance of dying during the course of her lifetime from complications during pregnancy or delivery. South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa account for 95% of all maternal deaths (see chart).


Addressing that gap is a multidisciplinary challenge, requiring education, healthcare workers, community involvement and social equality. Around 80% of maternal deaths can be avoided if women have access to essential maternity and basic health-care services. At a minimum, women must be guaranteed antenatal care, skilled birth attendants and emergency obstetrics, and postpartum care. These essential interventions will only be guaranteed if they are accompanied by improved education and the end of discrimination.

Nothing clever you can say about this death toll: it’s tragic, scandalous and almost entirely avoidable.

5 comments

  1. Pregnant women die are inevitable because there are lake of knowledge about pregnancy, they never realise that pregnancy need skill and knowledge not just having a baby if they want to have healthy baby after labor. Great article above, hopefully women who read this article will be aware and inspire to learn more about pregnancy before getting pregnant

  2. It’s so sad & heartbreaking to hear that so many pregnancy women die in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (account for 95% of all maternal deaths). Without proper care, education & knowledge,how can one be aware of the “do” & “don’t”? In more developed country, we have the privilege of visiting our gynae for regular checkup on health and preborn child development status whereas the people in these not so developed countries are less fortunate. Survival may be their primary concern and they have to face poverty constantly in their lives…

  3. Came across this post while doing some research for an article I am writing. The numbers are truly saddening. I get so irritated when I see childbirth classes being mocked on TV and in the movies. If people in more developed countries could only realize how lucky they are to have such resources available and count their blessings.

  4. I want to echo Kim’s sentiment. We live in a privileged society where a safe baby and safe delivery of the mother is expected. Thanks for keeping us mindful of the realities in the larger world.

Leave a comment