Beyond 2015: the continued relevance of maternal mortality

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Image from ISUOG Outreach – Ghana 2010

Gesù Antonio Báez is ISUOG’s International Development Officer. He coordinates and is responsible for all development projects, in particular for the coordination of the ISUOG Outreach Program. He contributes regularly to the ISUOG Outreach Blog. To inquiry about Outreach, reach him at outreach@isuog.org

December 2015 will technically mark the end of the current Millennium Development Goals for 2015 and multiple organisations and NGO’s are running at frantic pace to continue to work towards fulfilling what those goals were set out to accomplish while governments are providing their last reports and findings to demonstrate whether they have met their goals for 2015 or not.

The Millennium Development Goals (or MDG’s as they are commonly called) were a list of eight specific goals designated and agreed to by the United Nations in 2000 that were aimed at cutting poverty and related factors in half by 2015. Among those eight goals were number four and five which primarily focused on the need to reduce levels of maternal and neonatal mortality rates in under development countries. But after 2015, should the topic on improving maternal and neonatal health come off the priority list?

At present, talks on the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals are underway with countless stakeholders and NGO representatives invited to the United Nations and relevant UN agencies to help identify them. A new initiative carried out by the NGO “Red Elephant” is underway in collaboration with the UN to carry out surveys in various regions to ask the global audience which items they should view as a top priority to begin working on- items such as adolescent rights, women’s empowerment, gender equality, and many more. And at ISUOG’s 25th World Congress which will take place in Montréal of this year, the topic of global maternal mortality will be a major focus. But will maternal mortality still be relevant for the new global goals going forward? Or will new priorities take precedence.

Clearly, there have been achievements, such as in China. According to the WHO, 97 women died per 100,000 live births in China in 1990. By 2013, the number reduced to 31 and this achievement was highlighted at ISUOG 10th International Symposium in Beijing last year.

India, however, is a different matter. At present, India is not anticipated to reach their goal for halving maternal mortality rates by 2015. Though significant progress has been made in certain Indian states, such as Kerala (which has also hosted a number of ISUOG Approved Courses), other states – particularly in the north such as Uttar Pradesh – have been improving at a slower rate. With this, it only carries more importance into why ISUOG is hosting its 11th International Symposium this year in New Delhi and stresses the importance of its presence in that particular region of the world.

Other countries such as Papua New Guinea have barely made any improvement since the MDG’s creation in 2000. In fact, it’s only doubled which makes it the worst place to give birth in the pacific region.

And in the wake of the current crises in Syria where refugees are giving birth within tents that are exposed to harsh environmental conditions, the need for maternal morality reduction is growing more urgent than ever before.  Maternal mortality must continue to always be a priority in all global agendas and ISUOG Outreach endeavors to ensure that it is through its education endeavors. Educating OB/GYN practitioners in ultrasound technology is vital for them to identify preventable causes of maternal mortality and in the long run, this can only help to reduce rates. But prioritizing maternal health globally is crucial for there to be reduction in the long term.

– Gesu Antonio Baez

 

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Infographic courtesy of the World Health Organization (WHO)

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