By Joanne Lu

Every woman deserves to give birth safely and with dignity. Yet sadly, maternal death during childbirth is not yet a thing of the past. Despite immense progress between 1990 and 2015 that nearly halved the global maternal mortality rate, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that about 830 women around the world still die every day from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth. By 2030, the international community aims to reduce maternal mortality by 68 percent. But achieving that will require a concerted push to not only improve skilled delivery for mothers around the world but also build their trust through respectful care.

Safe birth environments require many functioning systems to work together. A single missing element can be dangerous, even fatal, for mothers and their babies. These elements include timely transportation, safe blood for transfusion, clean water and, perhaps most importantly, skilled birth attendants.

According to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and WHO, the presence of a skilled birth attendant – whether a medical doctor, nurse or midwife – can reduce the risk of death or stillbirth from delivery-related complications by about 20 percent. Yet only 78 percent of births in the world occur with assistance from a skilled birth attendant. In West and Central Africa, the coverage is a mere 56 percent. Without trained attendants who can recognize and respond to deadly complications such as hemorrhage or sepsis, about three-quarters of all maternal deaths occur during delivery and in the immediate postpartum period.

Read the full story about how investing in birth attendants reduces maternal morality at Global Washington.