Michelle Hartney has been an artist and activist for maternal health and obstetrics since the birth of her daughter and son: Shine and Seamus. While she says both of her deliveries were empowering, they were also very troubling prompting Hartney to create awareness through art about the high maternal mortality rate in the United States as well as obstetric abuse that she says is all too common for women across the country.
“I was shocked to discover that the way American women give birth now is rooted in a past that is riddled with misogyny, racism, and abuse. As I was reading as much as I could about the history of obstetrics in America, I was filling up my sketchbook with ideas and was flooded with visuals and topics that I wanted to make work about.”
For Hartney’s second delivery with her son, her doctor did not deliver her daughter, but she was instead assisted by a resident who wasn’t going into the field of obstetrics. She ended up fighting with the resident and a nurse about wanting to deliver her baby on her side; an option previously agreed upon by she and her doctor. Instead, they forcefully told her to “lie on her back” to deliver. Since Hartney had a doula who advocated for her during childbirth she was able to deliver on her side in four pushes, but the experience was difficult for her to handle.
Maternal health remains one of the most elusive Millennium Development Goal to achieve. While maternal deaths worldwide have been nearly halved since 1990, there is still a long way to go to ensure that more women’s lives are saved during childbirth. Currently 800 women lose their lives during childbirth due to largely preventable reasons. According to the new report, Strategies Towards Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality, by 2030 the maternal mortality ratio should be no larger than 70 deaths/100,000 live births and no country should have a MMR of 140 deaths/100,000 live births.
How can this be achieved?
The new report calls for more wellness-focused healthcare as opposed to emergency-focused care for expectant mothers despite available resources. Most importantly, the post 2015 maternal health framework is rooted in human rights for women and girls. In order to save more women’s lives, there needs to be a cross-sectional system of integrated care. According to the report, more women, girls, and communities need to be empowered to recognize gender equality and empowerment. Mothers and newborns must have integrated care as opposed to caring for both independently.
Across the world, over 17,000 children under age five continue to die every day, mostly from preventable causes and treatable diseases. This translates to approximately 12 children every minute and over 6.3 million total in 2013. More than half of these child deaths can be attributed to malnutrition (approximately 45% of all child deaths), pneumonia, diarrhea, measles and malaria.
Nearly 3 million of the total deaths occur in children within their first month of life. The Challenge. The 2015 Children’s Prize seeks the best and most effective project that proposes to save the greatest number of children’s lives with $250,000. Projects will be evaluated based on the ability to impact rates within a child mortality indicator (U5MR, IMR, NMR, etc.), effectiveness, innovation and scalability of the intervention approach within global health, feasibility of the proposed lives-saved estimate, probability of success, ease of verification and inclusion of an impact assessment for the project.
The Children’s Prize, a $250,000 global health competition, is open for applications from individuals, nonprofits, and for profits organizations that work for children and can save more children’s lives through funding.