ABC News: 20 Maternal Health Facts We All Should Know

12/17/2011 6:54:54 PM

It's a chilly Saturday here in Seattle and I'm revved up. ABC News' 20/20 program on maternal health, which they aired last night ("Making Life: A Risky Proposition"), was followed this morning by an article: "Maternal Health by the Numbers: 20 From '20/20'".

The program (and, as you'll see from the article) looks into what ABC News calls "the most dangerous thing a woman can do." That statement couldn't be truer for millions of women - especially in the developing world. It's an issue increasingly covered, justifiably, in the global media: why are so many women dying during pregnancy and childbirth?

Access has a lot to do with it: access to skilled providers including midwives, access to family planning tools, and access to health information. All of these tools are ones in which the Gates Foundation and others are working hard to provide for women, especially women in the poorest countries in the world.

And educating ourselves about not just what's wrong - but how to fix it - is key. Below, from ABC News' "Maternal Health by the Numbers: 20 From '20/20'", are those key facts we can all use to spread awareness.:

1. A woman dies every 90 seconds during pregnancy or childbirth.

2. That mortality rate amounts to more than 350,000 deaths per year or more than 1,000 a day.

3. Ninety-nine percent of all maternal deaths occur in developing countries.

4. One woman in 11 dies in pregnancy or childbirth in Afghanistan.

5. The United States ranks 50th in the world in maternal mortality, with higher death rates than most European countries as well some in Asia and the Middle East, according to the World Health Organization.

6. One-third of all births worldwide are performed without a skilled professional.

7. In 2011, more than 50 million babies were delivered without the aid of a skilled birth attendant.

8. Adding 350,000 midwives overseas could save the lives of as many as 3.6 million mothers and children.

9. A 10 percent increase in skilled health workers corresponds to a 5 percent reduction in maternal deaths.

10. Eighty percent of maternal deaths could be prevented by cost-effective, timely health care before, during and after childbirth, including family planning, skilled attendance at birth, emergency medical services and care in the weeks after birth.

11. One in 7 girls in developing countries is married by the age of 15.

12. Girls younger than 15 are five times more likely to die while giving birth.

13. Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are a significant cause of death among adolescent girls, ages 15-19, resulting in nearly 70,000 deaths each year.

14. About 215 million women who want to control the size of their families don't have access to family planning.

15. Each year, modern contraceptive use prevents 188 million unintended pregnancies.

16. The use of contraceptives helps prevent a projected 150,000 maternal deaths.

17. Fulfilling the unmet need for family planning would reduce maternal mortality by 32 percent.

18. More family planning would also reduce infant mortality by 10 percent.

19. Programs that deliver health messages to women's mobile phones provide specific information about nutrition, prenatal care, immunization schedules and how to treat diarrhea and pneumonia in children. Nearly 25 million moms around the world are already receiving health messages delivered through the Internet and hundreds of thousands of mothers receive this information through their phones.

20. Despite advances such as mobile health messages, only 23 countries are on target to meet Millennium Development Goal 5, to reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent by 2015.

Inspired to do more to make pregnancy and childbirth safer for women around the world? Join the Million Moms Challenge.
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