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Focusing On Whole Health System Critical To Improving Maternal, Child Mortality

Project Syndicate: Why Does Childbirth Still Kill?
Katherine Semrau, epidemiologist and Better Birth program leader at Ariadne Labs

“Each year, more than 5.6 million women and newborns die during pregnancy, childbirth, or in the first month of life. What is more shocking is the vast majority of these deaths should never happen. … Ninety-nine percent of maternal deaths and 80 percent of newborn deaths can be prevented with known interventions. We know that giving birth in a health facility with a skilled clinician should mean better care and better outcomes. In many places, however, encouraging women to deliver in health facilities, rather than at home, has not resulted in reduced mortality. The problem is low quality care. To make progress on reducing mortality, we now need to focus on improving and strengthening the frontline primary care facilities where the majority of births worldwide are happening. … We are closer than we have ever been to closing the gap on maternal and newborn mortality. We know what is needed to make childbirth safer. Now we must determine how to make that happen in every facility around the world. It is time we deliver for women and their newborns” (3/7).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.