Inequality Debate 8 Birth Deaths
A pregnant woman has one foot in the grave. - African proverb
This is an old saying with a scary reality – every day 1,000 women die
needlessly from giving birth. This is the biggest health inequality that the world
doesn’t know enough about – a whopping 99% of these women are from the
developing world. Tragically, most of these deaths are preventable.
Why is dying in childbirth a gender inequality?
At the dirty roots of this problem is the low status of women. What’s lacking is
not the know-how, but political will and investment in women’s health services.
To save red faces, world leaders might want to look away now. Of their eight
Millennium Goals (goals set by world leaders in 2000 to help tackle poverty)
reducing the number of women who die every year in childbirth by three
quarters, is the goal that they’re most behind on.
But why do these women die?
Often women just can’t get the help they need – there’s no midwife or nurse
where they live, the clinic is too far or expensive, the hospital has no medicine
– or their husband won’t let them go there. So half the women in Africa still give
birth alone or rely on the help of a relative or neighbour.
And the result: 1,000 women die giving birth every day – from heavy bleeding,
or high blood pressure, or infection, or because the baby got stuck and they
ran out of strength. Often, the baby dies too. And the scandal is that almost all
of these deaths are preventable.
It’s a sad fact that people die every day – why the focus on mothers?
Let’s do a bit of trumpet blowing on behalf of mums – the homemakers, the
educators, sometimes the only breadwinners. Dads might have stepped up
their game here but in countries worldwide, mothers are still the lynchpin
of family life. When women die in childbirth the hard loss of mothers, wives,
daughters, sisters and friends is devastating.
How do we solve such a massive problem?
We already know how to stop women dying in childbirth – we do it all the time in
richer countries, right? We must train and employ millions more health workers
so women don’t face childbirth alone. Women, mums especially, lie at the heart
of development. If we want a peaceful, prosperous, sustainable world, we must
make a fuss about this huge injustice and demand that governments invest in
the health of mums. Let’s make mums matter.