The United Nations had set forth a number of Millennium Development Goals that were to be met by the year 2015. Often referred to as the MDGs, the question that comes to mind now that we’re a quarter into 2015 is ‘What’s ahead?’. MDG 4,5 and 6 were focused on issues related to maternal health, maternal mortality and child and newborn health. One of the big goals was MDG 5, which aimed to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by this year. The Maternal Health Task Force reported that between 1990 and 2013 the world’s maternal mortality rate had actually decreased by 45%. Although the numbers have shown a decline in many countries, the reality is, the numbers are still too high. And while many developing nations saw a decline, developed countries like the United States saw a growth in maternal deaths. No woman in the 21st century should be dying because she gave birth.
In a recent round-table discussion, Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, spoke with millionaire Bill Gates, about what lies ahead with maternal, newborn and child health. They said one of the key things will be to gather vital statistics and data in order to move forward. Harper said, “As we start to drive these numbers further down, we’re going to come to some real data quality issues pretty quickly. And we’re going to actually want to know that there are people out there who have been registered, their births, their deaths, and so we actually know what we’re talking about in terms of results.” Canada has pledged $6 billion towards improving maternal, newborn and child health globally. It’s very important for the UN to keep maternal health on its agenda and not abandon the goals simply because 2015 has come. When creating new goals this should still be taken into consideration and plans can be made to continue with the small successes of improved statistics.
Bill Gates said that the MDGs really made a difference because it took small measurable statistics. He went on to say that it helped in looking at different countries who had been good examples as to what to do.
In my opinion, based on my personal experiences after working for the Maternal Health Channel TV Series in Ghana, some of the key areas that need improvement include the following:
- Increase of skilled birth attendants.
- Access to fully equipped medical facilities in rural communities.
- More doctors available in case a caesarean is required.
- Access to quality blood banks.
- Educating women on the importance of pre-natal (ante-natal) care.
- Vehicles available to transport women to local hospitals or clinics when in labour.
These are just a few of the areas that would help in small improvements. I certainly don’t believe I have all the answers because this is a very complex issue with different challenges in every country. Hopefully those actively involved will continue with the work towards decreasing the numbers until we have nearly eradicated the number of women who still die bringing a life into this world.