This morning I met Benjamin for the first time. He is less than 20 days old and the son of good friends Dave and Janet. Everyone is happy and healthy. Benjamin is a beautiful baby.
Dave is a doctor, and I took some time to ask him about how things in his life have changed since the arrival of Benjamin. We also talked about the distinction between how wonderful medical care is in Australia, compared with what might be expected in what is referred to as a ‘developing country’.
How fortunate we are to experience almost very low child mortality and excellent maternal health. Dave was explaining how easy and cheap it would be to save so many life through simple interventions relating to hydration and hygiene. Simple things we take so much for granted that we don’t even think twice.
During the week a friend related a story where apparently in parts of Sudan the prevalence of child mortality was so high that new born babies are not given names.
I am thankful for Dave and Janet that things are different for Benjamin. How long will it be before child mortality and maternal health become taken for granted by almost everyone on earth?
AT only 15 days old, Louis Paul Coutts-Trotter carries the weight of a nation. He’s the son of ALP Member for Sydney Tanya Plibersek. Welcome to a wonderful world Louis!
- More than 350,000 women die annually from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, almost all of them — 99 per cent — in developing countries.
- The maternal mortality rate is declining only slowly, even though the vast majority of deaths are avoidable.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman’s maternal mortality risk is 1 in 30, compared to 1 in 5,600 in developed regions.
- Every year, more than 1 million children are left motherless. Children who have lost their mothers are up to 10 times more likely to die prematurely than those who have not.
Today with only four days until the punishing task of running 10 sub-marathons across the globe inside of 30 days we turn to look at the fifth Millennium Development Goal- Improving Maternal Health.
The United Nations (UN) has two targets to meet this goal:
- Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
- Achieve universal access to reproductive health
So, what does the UN have to say about progress? Here are some comments directly from the UN:
- Most maternal deaths could be avoided
- Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care
- The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed
- More women are receiving antenatal care
- Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking
- Only one in three rural women in developing regions receive the recommended care during pregnancy
- Progress has stalled in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies, putting more young mothers at risk
- Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates
- Progress in expanding the use of contraceptives by women has slowed
- Use of contraception is lowest among the poorest women and those with no education
- Inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health
Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking. That is a strong choice of words from the UN. That is a concern.
Maternal mortality is declining, but more needs to be done. This report from the UN gives a good visual description of where the gap lies through use of comparative graphs. Take a look.
Don’t we all wish that every child and mother could enjoy the health and opportunity like Louis and Tanya.
(Please play Six Bridges of Separation- forward this to someone you know and see how long it takes to get to Tanya Plibersek. I’ll send out a blog once I hear back from her to let you know how long it took! Are we really that connected?!)