Debates

Global Maternal Health

Every year throughout the world, millions of women will become pregnant. While some women may enjoy good health throughout pregnancy and childbirth, for other women, this can be a very dangerous time and they many will face significant complications and ill-health.

A large number of these women, especially those in low resource settings, will die as a direct or indirect result of becoming pregnant.

The probability for a woman to die of pregnancy related causes in low and middle income countries (LMICs) is nearly 20 times higher than that of women in high income countries.

There are major discrepancies and inequality in the access to and quality of health for women during and after pregnancy around the world.

The current international maternal health priority, endorsed by the United Nations (UN), is Sustainable Development Goal number three (SDG 3): to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages. SDG 3.1, a sub-target of SDG (Health care for women) has a target of a reduction in the global maternal mortality rate to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Currently, the strategy and global maternal and newborn health targets have expanded from a focus on preventing death, to formulating new targets that serve to emphasise the importance of health and well-being, ‘survive and thrive’.

There is a renewed emphasis and political will to ensure that all women have the right to, and are able to obtain, the highest attainable standard of health and well-being including physical, mental and social aspects of health (UN 2015a, UN 2015b).

The international aim going forward is to ensure that every woman in every setting has an equal chance to survive and thrive during and after pregnancy (UN 2015b). The Global Strategy strives for a world in which every mother can enjoy a wanted and healthy pregnancy and childbirth; realize their full potential, resulting in enormous social, demographic and economic benefits (UN 2015a).

However, currently, this is not the case with many women across different low- and middle-income countries facing numerous interrelated (policy, social and legal) barriers and challenges, underpinned by poverty, inequality and marginalization that harms their physical, mental and emotional health and well-being (UN 2015a)

Questions and solutions discussed at scientific debates

Maternal death and ill-health can be prevented through actions that are proven to be effective and affordable. What works best and where across the world?

How can we increase women’s reproductive and sexual health rights globally?

How can we support women in their choice of where and how to give birth safely globally?

How can we used evidence from research to improve the care women receive during and after pregnancy, especially in low resource settings?

How can the availability and access to good quality medical care be improved, especially in low resource settings?

How it is possible that a woman in the 21st century can suffer obstetric fistula?

Why is it that women and children are the most vulnerable during conflict and what can be done to protect them?

Should women have a choice about when and how they become pregnant, no matter their status and age?

Should women be able to decide the sex of their baby?

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