Giving Compass' Take:

John G. Meara et al., discuss the drop in maternal mortality rates and the ongoing need for access to life-saving surgeries in developing countries.

How can maternal health be looked at holistically, and how can funders help focus the conversation on increasing access to surgery?

Read more about expanding access to life-saving maternal care.

Every two minutes, a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, and many more experience unexpected outcomes that result in short- or long-term health consequences.

But with a shift in approaches to maternal health improvements, these dire statistics could drastically transform within the next decade.
Decreases in maternal mortality are celebrated as a global health achievement worldwide, as maternal mortality dropped by 38% from 2000 to 2017.

Although this is an encouraging achievement — and is a direct result of increased access to antenatal care, contraception, and skilled birth attendants — the progress to reduce maternal mortality has stalled. The unfortunate fact remains that there are still approximately 200 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births globally, and in many low-income countries, maternal mortality exceeds 400 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to statistics from 2017.

This is far above the benchmarks set under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 for good health and well-being for all. Target 3.1 is to achieve a global maternal mortality ratio that's less than 70 per 100,000 live births. Investments in access to safe, timely and affordable surgery, and anesthesia are needed to break this trend and decrease preventable maternal deaths.

Globally, we have seen significant funding increases and coordinated maternal health interventions in recent years when it comes to the prevention and management of pregnancy and childbirth complications. Midwives and community health workers have achieved tremendous progress in amplifying the number of healthy pregnancies, mothers, and babies — but in many developing settings, surgical, obstetric, and anesthesia care has not been prioritized.

Comprehensive maternity care must expand beyond midwives, skilled birth attendants, and community health workers to include surgical care for pregnant women in need of life-saving surgical interventions, such as cesarean sections.

Read the full article about decreasing maternal mortality rates around the world by John G. Meara, Melissa Gradilla, Lina Roa, and Christy Turlington Burns at Global Citizen.