45 Percent Fewer Women Die Giving Life—More Would Survive If They Counted

Women Deliver welcomes two new studies that highlight reductions in maternal mortality and the causes behind those deaths, but calls for further improvements in overall data collection for girls and women

6 May 2014 – The number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has declined by 45 percent, from 523,000 in 1990 to an estimated 289,000 in 2013, according to a new study, Trends in Maternal Mortality Estimates 1990-2013, released today by the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), The World Bank and the United Nations Population Division.

The progress is noteworthy, but the decline is less than what is needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75 percent between 1990 and 2015. Read more...

Special Supplement on Maternal and Perinatal Morbidity and Mortality

This month, BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology published a special supplement on maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. The supplement is drawn from the findings of the WHO Multi-Country Survey on Maternal and Newborn Health from 2010-2012, which is the largest study to date of severe complications and “near misses” in pregnancy. In total, the supplement includes twelve papers, an Editorial, and a Commentary.

The WHO Survey’s data was collected from more than 300,000 women utilizing 359 healthcare facilities in 29 countries, and analyses were run on the number of pregnant women with severe maternal outcomes (either maternal death or “near miss”) and the coverage of essential interventions within these health facilities. Read more...

New Study Shows Access to Information and Services Does Not Lead to Sexual Risk Taking

A new study in Pediatrics has found that young women who are vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV) do not participate in riskier sexual behavior as a result. HPV is the most common STI in the United States and the leading cause of cervical cancer. These findings show, again, that providing young people with sexual and reproductive health information and services is not linked to riskier sexual behavior. Read more...

The Lancet Publishes New Study on Maternal Mortality in Adolescents

The following contains excerpts from The Lancet article "Maternal mortality in adolescents compared with women of other ages: evidence from 144 countries."

The Lancet has published a new article investigating the toll of maternal mortality on adolescents. Adolescents are often noted to have an increased risk of death during pregnancy or childbirth compared with older women, but the existing evidence is inconsistent and in many cases contradictory. The new study aimed to quantify the risk of maternal death in adolescents by estimating maternal mortality ratios for women aged 15 to 19 years of age by country, region, and worldwide, and to compare the ratios with those for women in other 5-year age groups. Read more...


The Lancet: Women Deliver Special Issue

The Lancet today [Friday 17 May, 2013] publishes a special theme issue ahead of the 2013 Women Deliver conference, to be held May 28 – 30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Women Deliver brings together voices from around the world to call for action to improve the health and well-being of girls and women, and the latest issue of The Lancet highlights some of the latest research and views on maternal health. Read more...

New Study Finds Little Progress in Meeting Demand for Contraception in the Poorest Countries

Women in Poorest Countries Who Want to Avoid Pregnancy Are Three Times as Likely to Have an Unmet Need for Modern Methods as Women in Higher-Income Developing Countries

A new study by the Guttmacher Institute finds that within the developing world, the poorest countries are lagging far behind higher-income developing countries in meeting the demand for modern contraception. Between 2003 and 2012, the total number of women wanting to avoid pregnancy and in need of contraception increased from 716 million to 867 million, with growth concentrated among women in the 69 poorest countries where modern method use was already very low. The study, "Trends in Contraceptive Need and Use in Developing Countries in 2003, 2008, 2012: An Analysis of National Surveys" by Jacqueline E. Darroch and Susheela Singh, is published in the latest issue of The Lancet. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Private Sector Provides HIV Testing

By: Harshi Hettige, Women Deliver

A study by SHOPS Project shows that the private sector plays a vital, although varied, role in addressing the HIV pandemic. There is less data on private health providers that offer HIV counselling and testing, however research reveals that this approach should be celebrated and taken advantage of as a solution. Doug Johnson and Xi Cheng conducted research in 18 developing countries and analysed data from 2005 to 2011. Read more...

Women Deliver and The Lancet Announce Call for Papers

Since the first Women Deliver conference in October 2007, governments, civil society, and the private sector have all made dramatic advances in improving maternal health, and the lives of girls and women.   Although maternal deaths are on the decline, slow progress in many countries called for the second Women Deliver conference in 2010, which lead to more commitments from across sectors to changing the maternal health outlook. The third Women Deliver conference will take place from May 28 – 30, 2013, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, focusing on the links between improving maternal health and other development goals. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Linking Maternal and Mental Health Care

By: Smita Gaith, Women Deliver

Maternal health and mental health are inextricably linked – pregnant and postnatal women often suffer from common mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and other issues. But, all too often, these disorders go undiagnosed and untreated. Maternal suicide is the leading cause of death in the perinatal period, and there is a growing body of evidence to support the need for maternal mental health support in low- and middle-income countries.

In South Africa, the Perinatal Mental Health Project (PMHP), ongoing since July 2008, created an intervention that integrates mental health care services with primary care services. Read more...

New Study Shows Benefits of Misoprostol to Manage PPH

By: Dr. Aoife Kenny, a maternal health advocate and clinician in New Zealand

Pregnancy and childbirth can be dangerous, no matter where you are in the world. But it is the ability to deal with, or better yet prevent, things from going wrong that makes the difference.

A study published in BJOG, the International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, in July 2012 highlights an exciting development for women worldwide. Read more...

New Somali Constitution Bans Female Genital Cutting

The new constitution of Somalia officially bans female genital cutting/female genital mutilation (FGC/FGM). Under Article 15, the constitution explicitly states “Circumcision of girls is a cruel and degrading customary practice, and is tantamount to torture. The circumcision of girls is prohibited.”

According to the World Health Organization, about 140 million girls and women worldwide have been directly impacted and are living with “consequences” of FGM. In the African continent alone, 92 million girls age 10 and older have undergone the procedure, with most procedures happening between infancy and the 15 years. Read more...

New Lancet Series Demonstrates Impact of Family Planning

A new series by the Lancet called Family Planning has been published and released on the eve of the UK Family Planning Summit.

The series reviews evidence of the impact of family planning on population health and the environment. “Family Planning” provides a look at a combination of articles that represent the latest thinking behind the UK Family Planning Summit, demonstrating the negative consequences of an unmet need for access to family planning. Read more...

The Lancet and Global Partners Collaborate on Midwifery Care Efforts

The Lancet, a scientific journal, has joined an international team of 35 researchers in creating a special series on midwifery for May/June 2013.

The collaboration, which is supported by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, will examine important areas of reproductive, maternal and newborn care that are within the scope of midwifery services, and increase the evidence available to guide and promote development of midwifery services, in order to improve maternal, newborn, and infant health outcomes. Read more...

Celebrate Solutions: Ecuador’s Health System Model Reduces Maternal Mortality

By: Smita Gaith, Women Deliver

Of the 287,000 maternal deaths that occur every year, 320 take place in Ecuador, and 8800 in the entire Latin America and the Caribbean region. Post-partum hemorrhage has been identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the leading and yet most preventable causes of maternal death, accounting for nearly 21 percent of maternal mortality in the Latin America and Caribbean region. Read more...


Additional Contraceptive Services Needed to Reduce Unsafe Abortions in Colombia

A new report released by the Guttmacher Institute and Fundación Oriéntame assesses that the number of induced abortions in Colombia rose between 1989 and 2008. Despite this, the country’s abortion rate rose only minimally; indicating a rise in the number of reproductive aged women as the reason for growth. Unintended Pregnancy and Induced Abortion in Colombia: Causes and Consequences, points to the criminal nature of abortions by the Colombian government as the major source of complications and health risks to women. Read more...

Event Alert: World Bank Online Forum on Gender Asks, ‘How Do We Get to Equal?’

If questions like why women make up the majority of unpaid workers worldwide and why only one in five lawmakers globally are women leave you perplexed and—quite frankly—mad, tune and make your voice heard during the World Bank’s Open Forum, “Gender – Getting to Equal,” on Sept. 20th and 21st. Read more...

USAID Study Shows Effectiveness of Collaborative Improvement Approach for Improving Health Systems

A new study from the USAID Health Care Improvement Project shows that a quality improvement method widely used in the US called collaborative improvement is also effective in low- and middle-income countries. The fundamental concept underlying the field of improvement is that a system left unchanged can only be expected to continue to produce the same results. Read more…

Lancet Series Responds to the 2.6 Million Stillbirths Occurring Each Year

Today, The Lancet launched a new series on stillbirths.  In six series papers, two research articles, and eight comments, global health experts illustrate how stillbirths have been rendered invisible in the global health arena, and what can be done to bring these tragedies to light.  Through new analysis of stillbirth occurrences, success stories and lessons learned from around the world, with a focus on the poor and marginalized, The Lancet Stillbirth Series is a call to action that we cannot afford to ignore. Read more...

New Findings on Official Development Assistance to Maternal, Newborn and Child Health

A new report published in The Lancet reveals that Official Development Assistance (ODA) in support of maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) programs increased in 2007 and 2008, yet concerns persist over how countries are prioritized. ODA for MNCH programs increased from $4.7 billion in 2007 to $5.4 billion in 2008 for all developing countries, with Countdown priority countries receiving 71.6% of MNCH aid in 2007, and 75.6% in 2008. Increased flows of ODA are in large part due to the efforts emerging from the Accra Agenda for Action and the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness, which also called for a larger proportion of MNCH ODA to be disbursed as grants, not loans. Read more...

MDG5: What’s in a Maternal Death?

By: Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver; originally posted at GLOBAL HEALTH Magazine Blog

It has been a big year for maternal health advocates. Next week we gear up for a global review of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the Secretary-General will launch the Global Strategy for Womens and Childrens Health. These are huge steps forward, with path-cutting initiatives that will enable maternal health advocates, providers, and donors to do our work more effectively.

The recent UN maternal mortality figures are further good news, which confirm what we have all been hoping for: globally, mortality rates are down and we have been doing something right.

But have we been doing enough right? While the latest estimates are welcome good news, we know more must be done - both to save womens lives and better understand the magnitude of the problem.

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