Giving Compass' Take:

• This NextBillion post features the efforts of Safe Surgery 2020, which aims to train medical teams in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa, making sure that life-saving procedures such as C-sections are available to all.

• How can other international aid and healthcare groups support efforts such as these? Are we getting any closer to universal health access in developing countries?

• Here's more about expediting access to quality healthcare in rural Africa.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, only 7.3 percent of babies are born by C-section. And the rates become more shocking when you look at individual countries – the caesarean rate in Nigeria is 2 percent, in Liberia it is 3.5 percent and Zimbabwe it is 6 percent. Now take a look at the maternal mortality rates (MMR) of these countries: for every 100,000 live births, 814 women die in Nigeria, 725 die in Liberia, and 443 die in Zimbabwe. (For comparison, the U.S. has the highest MMR in the developed world at 26.4). It is clear, C-sections are essential to saving mothers’ lives.

Improving access to safe C-sections in low- and middle-income countries is not easy. A hospital could have the most qualified surgeon ready to provide a C-section, but without an anesthesia provider, running water, medical oxygen, sterilized equipment or lighting, the surgery can’t go ahead. The entire surgical system, the people, supplies and infrastructure, must come together to deliver safe C-sections.

Safe Surgery 2020, a partnership funded by GE Foundation, brings together innovations, global expertise and local experience to make surgical care safe and accessible for all. The initiative develops the technical and soft skills of surgical teams working in remote parts of Ethiopia and Tanzania, while overcoming infrastructure barriers by identifying and scaling innovations.

Read the full article about expanding access to maternal care by Erin Barringer and Erastus Maina at NextBillion.