Maternal mortality is a global public health challenge that has persisted for many years. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), maternal mortality is defined as the death of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of delivery, regardless of the duration and site of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management.
Maternal mortality is a significant indicator of the level of a country’s healthcare system and socio-economic development. In this article, we will explore the tragic reality of maternal mortality, the causes, and possible solutions.
The Tragic Reality of Maternal Mortality
Maternal mortality is a tragedy that affects women and their families worldwide. According to WHO, approximately 810 women die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. This translates to over 295,000 maternal deaths annually, with the majority occurring in developing countries. The tragedy of maternal mortality is further compounded by the fact that for every woman who dies, 20 or more experience acute or chronic morbidity, resulting in long-term disability and a lower quality of life.
Causes of Maternal Mortality
Maternal mortality is caused by a combination of factors, including poor maternal health, inadequate access to quality maternal health care, and poverty. The following are some of the main causes of maternal mortality:
- Hemorrhage – excessive bleeding after childbirth is one of the leading causes of maternal mortality.
- Infections – maternal infections, such as sepsis, are a significant cause of maternal deaths, especially in developing countries.
- Hypertensive disorders – hypertension during pregnancy can lead to severe complications such as eclampsia, which can be fatal.
- Obstructed labor – when the baby cannot pass through the birth canal, it can lead to maternal death if not managed appropriately.
- Unsafe abortion – unsafe abortion is a major cause of maternal mortality, particularly in countries where abortion is illegal or heavily restricted.
Maternal mortality is preventable, and there are several strategies that can be employed to reduce the number of deaths. These include:
- Strengthening health systems – investing in healthcare systems, particularly in developing countries, can help improve access to quality maternal healthcare services.
- Educating women – educating women on maternal health and empowering them to make informed decisions regarding their health can reduce the number of maternal deaths.
- Improving access to family planning – increasing access to family planning services can help prevent unintended pregnancies, which can lead to maternal mortality.
- Promoting safe childbirth practices – promoting safe childbirth practices, such as skilled birth attendance and proper management of obstetric emergencies, can help reduce maternal mortality.
- Addressing social determinants of maternal health – addressing social determinants such as poverty, gender inequality, and lack of education can help reduce maternal mortality.
Maternal mortality is a tragic reality that affects women worldwide, particularly in developing countries. It is preventable, and there are several strategies that can be employed to reduce the number of maternal deaths. Addressing the underlying social determinants of maternal health, promoting safe childbirth practices, and improving access to quality maternal healthcare services are essential steps towards reducing maternal mortality. As a global community, we must work together to ensure that no woman dies while giving life.