According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 800 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, with 99% of all maternal deaths occurring in developing countries. These figures, while having improved drastically in recent years, suggest an urgent need for maternal care in these countries to address this shocking mortality rate.
Unsurprisingly, maternal mortality is significantly higher in rural areas and poorer communities, due to the insufficient level of care available. Statistics show that 40 million women a year give birth without trained help, while the presence of a properly trained birth attendant is invaluable if they’re able to spot problems and provide the necessary help in time. The availability of these traditional birth attendants is, in fact, far preferable to midwives in many cases – as more often than not, it is the birth attendants in these developing countries who treat prenatal women with the respect and care that they deserve.
289,000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in 2013, with almost all of these deaths being preventable with the resources that should be accessible to any woman approaching childbirth. Unfortunately, however, women in these developing countries simply don’t have this access. Even if the mothers can reach a hospital for delivery the life-saving medications are simply not available.
Where is this happening?
99% of maternal deaths are in developing countries, with more than half of these occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. As it stands, the maternal mortality ratio in these countries is 230 per 100,000 live births – and that’s versus only 16 in developed countries. There are even great disparities between sub-Saharan countries, with some mortality rates as high as 1000 per 100,000 – and further gaps still between rural and urban areas within these countries.
Why are women dying?
The primary cause of maternal death in sub-Saharan Africa is complications during and following pregnancy and childbirth, most of which develop during pregnancy. Major complications accounting for almost 75% of all maternal deaths include severe bleeding, infections, complications from delivery, high blood pressure during pregnancy and unsafe abortions.
How can we save them?
At Life for African Mothers, our mission is to make birth safer in Sub-Saharan Africa, providing essential medication to treat eclampsia and post-partum haemorrhage. The supply of these medications has the power to reduce maternal mortality throughout developing countries and guarantee a greater quality of life for mothers and children throughout Africa.
Severe postpartum bleeding can lead to death within hours unless attended – but this risk is massively reduced, thanks to the Misoprostol tablets we supply at Life for African Mothers. Solutions as simple as good hygiene can prevent infection after childbirth, with early signs of infection being identified and treated as early as possible. Administering medication like the kind that Life for African Mothers provides throughout sub-Saharan Africa lower a woman’s risk of developing eclampsia and can even treat women suffering from the condition.
By continuing to provide this essential aid throughout developing countries, we can make pregnancy and childbirth safer for African mothers. But to truly address these appalling maternal mortality rates, barriers limiting access to essential maternal health services must be removed across the health system.