Reducing the world’s maternal mortality ratio by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 is one of the objectives of the Millennium Development Goal, actually its number 5. Even when we all know that these goals were supposed to have been achieved along time ago, progress towards this objective has been slow, or not yet kicked off in some East African countries, deep down in the villages.
Globally, 800 women die every day due to largely preventable complications during pregnancy and childbirth; these amounted to an estimated 289,000 maternal deaths in 2010. And approximately 47,000 maternal deaths worldwide are due to unsafe abortion. Additionally, for every woman who dies in childbirth, about 20 more suffer injury, infection, or disease ; about 10 million women each year and almost all these (99 percent) including death occur in developing countries like those in East Africa. (Stats from WHO)
Looking at the figures below, we are nowhere at controlling maternal health problems in East African yet. We need more combined efforts from civil societies, government, and the community at large to comb this.
Most of the affected are young women who are at the top of the table with risky complications and death during pregnancy and childbirth. It has been noted by a number of researches that these complications are the leading causes of death among girls 15-19 in low and middle income countries.
It should be known that maternal health is a human right, and that applying human rights frameworks and human rights-based approaches to maternal health offers strategies and tools to address root causes of maternal morbidity and mortality (MMM) within and beyond health systems, as well as other violations of women’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) across their lives, including poverty, gender inequality, and structural violence against women, rather than simply promoting short-term technical fixes is a must do for all those who think and know that mothers are important.
The Human Rights Principles in regard to maternal health include but are not limited to equality and non- discrimination, Participation, Indivisibility, the rule of law and the “AAAQ” framework (will explain this some other time or you can Google it). But these are limited by challenges like;
- Socio-economic factors including: ignorance, illiteracy and poverty leading to lack of confidence among targeted communities to engage and demand for rights from duty bearers.
- Poor status of roads limiting access to the little services available
- Continued participation of TBAs in maternal health service delivery even after their discontinuation by the national health policy
- Poor attitude of health workers arising from ignorance of the Rights Based Approach, low and delayed salaries among others
- Absence of maternity wards
- Poorly equipped maternal health facilities
#FoodForThought As a person who was born by a woman, and you have/had someone who you call/called your mother, what are you doing to improve maternal health in your community and society at large?