Category Archives: Maternal Health

Newly Released Data on Preterm Birth

Yesterday the World Health Organization along with some of its key partners released Born Too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth. In it, two key data points stood out. 15 million babies are born each year prematurely and 1.1 million of them die due to complications of preterm birth. Preterm birth is now the second leading cause of death for children under the age of five behind pneumonia.

These numbers are staggering and stand in the way of reaching the Millineum Development Goal of reducing childhood mortality by two thirds by 2015. According to the United Nations, the rate of child deaths is falling, but not rapidly enough.

The majority of preterm births occur in some of the poorest developing nations in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. You will probably be surprised to learn that the United States is one of the leading countries, despite our wealth, with large numbers of preterm births. In fact, the United States is one of the top 10 countries where preterm births occur. See the interactive map of preterm birth rates.

Through this report the World Health Organization is calling for greater investments, innovations, and research to help reduce the amount of preterm births and subsequent deaths. There is a new projected goal for 2025 to reduce the amount of preterm births by 50% in countries that have 5 preterm births per 1,000 live births according to the report. And for countries that have less than 5 preterm births per live 1,000 live births the goal is to eliminate all premature births.

Read the full report at

Join the #ItStartsWithMoms Twitter Chat on May 11

Thriving babies, healthy families, lives that reach their potential; it all starts with mothers. To celebrate this Mother’s Day, Jhpiego has partnered with USAID’s global Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program MCHIPJohn Snow InstituteWomen DeliverPSI, and Mom Bloggers for Social Good for a twitter chat on how providing mothers and their babies with a healthy start to life makes communities stronger, countries more secure, and our world a better place.

On May 11, 12-1:30pm EST, follow the discussion using the hashtag #itstartswithmoms. RSVP for the event on Facebook so we can remind you of the date and time as it nears.

Welcome by Jennifer James of Mom Bloggers for Social Good will take place at 12pm, followed by the discussions below:

·         12-12:30pm: Saving families by saving mothers—MCHIP (@MCHIPnet), Women Deliver (@WomenDeliver), PSI (@PSIHealthyLives)

·         12:30-1pm: Innovating for moms and future generations—Jhpiego (@Jhpiego), John Snow Institute (@JSIHealth)

·         1-1:30pm: Mothers for social change—Mom Bloggers for Social Good (@socialgoodmoms)

We hope you can join our lively conversation! See you on Twitter.

World Bank, IMF Say Maternal Health MDG Will Not be Met By 2015

We have three short years to meet the Millennium Development Goals  that were set and established in 2000 and sadly most will not be met by the 2015 deadline. This is particularly true for maternal health.

According to the recently released Global Monitoring Report  “progress has been lagging for health-related MDGs. Global targets related to infant and maternal mortality (MDGs 4.a) are significantly off-track. Current progress in reducing by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio roughly represents half of the required improvement needed to reach the 2015 goal.”

In contrast, the world is significantly off-track on the MDGs to reduce mortality rates of children under five and mothers. As a result, these goals will not be met in any developing region by 2015. Progress is slowest on maternal mortality, with only one-third of the targeted reduction achieved thus far. Progress on reducing infant and child mortality is similarly dismal, with only 50 per cent of the targeted decline achieved. –
Developing World Lags on Global Targets Related to Food and Nutrition, Says IMF-World Bank Report 

Most maternal deaths still take place in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Maternal heath relies on a variety of interconnected factors that will ensure women live through childbirth such as nutrition, access to family planning, as well as access to health workers during the birth process.

Read more findings in the Global Monitoring Report.


World Bank (2012) Global Monitoring Report : Food Prices, Nutrition, and the Millennium Development Goals; page 12

New Solutions to Global Problems: Watch TEDxChange Live – April 5

Next Thursday, April 5, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and TED will partner to host their annual TEDxChange event, this year in Berlin, Germany. TEDxChange is a partnership between TED and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bring forth new ideas to tackle global problems.

[When to Watch]: Watch TEDxChange live on Facebook on Thursday, April 5 at 8:30am PST/11:30am EST/5:30 CET.

This year’s theme is The Big Picture, where the speakers will apply new, bold ideas and perspectives to discuss the world’s most pressing social issues such as:

  • Why, as a global society, should we continue to invest in overseas development?
  • How can we work across borders and political boundaries to bring about positive change?
  • And what returns can we expect on our investments?

They will explore issues ranging from family planning and contraception to the environment to human-centered design.

Melinda Gates will speak about family planning and how the power to plan allows mothers and their babies to lead healthier lives. In fact, spacing pregnancies reduces maternal mortality and keeps children healthy and alive.

Be sure to join TEDxChange live on Facebookon Thursday, April 5 at 8:30am PST/11:30am EST/5:30 CET.

Respectful Maternity Care – A New Charter

I remember when I was pregnant with my second daughter. I was extremely apprehensive about the care I would receive because when I was pregnant with my first daughter I never felt like I was heard by my doctor and nurses and was even ridiculed because I questioned a medication they wanted me to take. By the time I was expecting for the second time I was cautious about where and with whom I would get care. I even walked out of a pre-natal care office because I didn’t like the vibe I was getting from the health workers. The last thing I wanted to deal with were doctors and nurses who really didn’t care about me and showed it. I was concerned only about delivering a healthy baby in a caring environment.

That was eleven years ago in North Carolina. Women the world over have experiences far worse than the doctors who treated me as just another patient. Some women are abused and belittled in public health facilities by nurses. The treatment is so bad that most women opt to deliver their babies in a hut as opposed to having to pay exorbitant costs and endure the degradation from health workers.

The problem may seem isolated, but in truth it is more widespread than we think not only in developing nations, but also here in the United States, especially among the poor.

The White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood has created a Respectful Maternity Care charter that lays out the tenets of proper care all expectant mothers deserve whether they live in Detroit or Djibouti.

I applaud this effort to ensure women are treated respectfully when they deliver their babies. Now, we just need to spread the word.