The World Health Organization has raised the alarm that a pregnant pregnant woman or newborn baby dies every seven seconds for eight years.
This development indicates that the global progress in reducing deaths of pregnant women, mothers, and babies has remained stagnant for eight years.
WHO in a new publication aunched on Tuesday, titled ‘Improving maternal and newborn health and survival and reducing stillbirth,’ identified decreasing investments in the sector as the cause for the increase in maternal and newborn deaths.
The latest data assessed by the report tracks critical health services, risk factors, and causes, shows that progress in improving survival has stalled since 2015, with around 290,000 maternal deaths, 1.9 million stillbirths, and 2.3 million newborn deaths each year.
The report highlights that over 4.5 million women and babies die every year during pregnancy, childbirth, or the first weeks after birth due to preventable or treatable causes.
According to the report, the COVID-19 pandemic, worsening humanitarian crises, and rising poverty have increased pressure on healthcare systems, resulting in disruptions to essential health services for pregnant women and sick children in 25% of the countries surveyed by WHO.
“Only one in ten countries has sufficient funds to execute their existing plans, as per the report launched at a significant global conference held in Cape Town, South Africa.
“Pregnant women and newborns continue to die at unacceptably high rates worldwide, and the COVID-19 pandemic has created further setbacks to providing them with the healthcare they need.
“If we wish to see different results, we must do things differently. More and smarter investments in primary healthcare are needed now so that every woman and baby — no matter where they live — hahavehethe b t chance of health and survival,” the Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Ageing at WHO, Dr. Anshu Banerjee, said.
“Funding losses and underinvestment in primary healthcare can devastate survival prospects.
“For instance, while prematurity is now the leading cause of all under-five deaths globally, less than a third of countries report having sufficient newborn care units to treat small and sick babies.
“In the worst-affected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia, the regions with the greatest burden of newborn and maternal deaths, fewer than 60 percent of women receive even four, of WHO’s recommended eight, antenatal checks.
“The death of any woman or young girl during pregnancy or childbirth is a serious violation of their human rights.
“It also reflects the urgent need to scale up access to quality sexual and reproductive health services as part of universal health coverage and primary health care, especially in communities where maternal mortality rates have stagnated or even risen during recent years.
“We must take a human rights and gender transformative approach to address maternal and newborn mortality, and it is vital that we stamp out the underlying factors which give rise to poor maternal health outcomes like socio-economic inequalities, discrimination, poverty, and injustice,” the Director of the Technical Division at the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, said.
To increase survival rates, Onabanjo said, “Women and babies must have quality, affordable healthcare before, during, and after childbirth, the agencies said, as well as access to family planning services.
“More skilled and motivated health workers, especially midwives, are needed, alongside essential medicines and supplies, safe water, and reliable electricity.”
The report emphasized the need for interventions to focus on the most impoverished women and those in vulnerable circumstances, who are at the highest risk of missing out on crucial care. This can be achieved through improved planning and investment strategies.
“To make further progress in maternal and newborn health, it is necessary to tackle harmful gender norms, biases, and inequalities.” Said WHO
Recent data reveals that only around 60% of women aged 15-49 years have autonomy in decision-making concerning their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
If current trends continue, more than 60 countries are unlikely to achieve the maternal, newborn, and stillborn mortality reduction targets outlined in the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
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