Monday 19 March 2012

Maternal deaths drop, but progress is slow

With one woman dying every 90 seconds in childbirth, attaining zero maternal mortality looks like a distant dream.

Hawa, a 21-year-old woman, had been in labour for three days before she was finally referred to the hospital in Jowhar, 18 kilometres from her village, in Somalia. She was examined by medical staff and diagnosed with obstructed labour and foetal distress.

Much time was wasted in getting the consent of her relatives, and doctors performed a caesarean and a distressed baby boy was delivered, needing resuscitation. Fortunately, Hawa and her baby survived the entire ordeal, according to a report - Maternal Death: The Avoidable Crisis - released by Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) or Doctors without Borders, on March 9.

Binta, 16, was brought to Jahun General Hospital in Nigeria after trying to deliver for two days at home. Her labour was obstructed, but doctors were able to do a vacuum delivery and Binta safely gave birth to her first child. "I was so tired from being in labour for so long that I couldn’t push anymore. If I had not been able to come to the hospital, I would have suffered and the end result would have been death for both me and my baby," Binta told MSF.

These are two instances of the ordeals women experience, particularly in developing countries, where they face the threat of maternal deaths which experts consider "preventable".

"About 15 per cent of all pregnancies worldwide will experience a life-threatening complication," Catrin Schulte-Hillen, a midwife who leads MSF's Sexual and Reproductive Health International Working Group - the organisation which provides emergency obstetric care in approximately 30 countries, including Somalia and Nigeria - told Al Jazeera.

Read more here.

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