The Devastating Reality of Maternal Mortality: Understanding Its Meaning and Impact on Women’s Health

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Maternal mortality is a critical public health issue that affects millions of women worldwide every year. The World Health Organization defines maternal mortality as “the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes.” In simpler terms, it means the death of a mother during or after childbirth due to pregnancy-related complications. This article will discuss the devastating reality of maternal mortality, its impact on women’s health, and what we can do to reduce it.

Understanding the Meaning of Maternal Mortality

Maternal mortality is a significant indicator of a country’s healthcare system and its social and economic development. According to the WHO, an estimated 295,000 women died due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. This means that every day, around 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth worldwide. Although the maternal mortality rate has decreased globally by 38% between 2000 and 2017, it remains unacceptably high in low-income countries.

Impact on Women’s Health

Maternal mortality not only affects the mother but also has a devastating impact on the family and the community. It robs families of a mother, a caregiver, and a source of income. It also has long-term physical and mental health consequences for children and families. According to UNICEF, children whose mothers die during childbirth are at higher risk of malnutrition, infectious diseases, and even death. Additionally, families who lose a mother are more likely to experience poverty, food insecurity, and displacement.

Factors Contributing to Maternal Mortality

Several factors contribute to maternal mortality, including:

  1. Lack of access to quality healthcare: Many women in low-income countries do not have access to quality healthcare services, especially during pregnancy and childbirth. This is due to a shortage of skilled healthcare providers, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of essential medicines and supplies.
  2. Poverty: Poverty is a significant contributing factor to maternal mortality. Women living in poverty often lack the resources to access healthcare services, including transportation to healthcare facilities, nutritious food, and clean water.
  3. Gender inequality: Gender inequality is another contributing factor to maternal mortality. Women in many societies have limited decision-making power, including decisions about their health and the number of children they want to have. They are also more likely to experience gender-based violence, which increases their risk of maternal mortality.

Reducing Maternal Mortality

Reducing maternal mortality requires a multifaceted approach, including:

  1. Increasing access to quality healthcare: Governments and international organizations need to invest in improving healthcare infrastructure, training skilled healthcare providers, and ensuring that essential medicines and supplies are available.
  2. Empowering women: Women need to have access to education, information, and resources to make informed decisions about their health and the number of children they want to have.
  3. Addressing poverty: Poverty reduction programs, including providing access to education, clean water, and nutritious food, can help reduce maternal mortality.
  4. Promoting gender equality: Governments and international organizations need to work towards promoting gender equality, including addressing gender-based violence, and ensuring that women have equal access to education and economic opportunities.


Maternal mortality is a devastating reality that affects millions of women worldwide. It is a critical public health issue that requires a multifaceted approach to reduce. Increasing access to quality healthcare, empowering women, addressing poverty, and promoting gender equality are all essential steps towards reducing maternal mortality. By working together, we can ensure that every woman has access to the healthcare and resources she needs to give birth safely and thrive.

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