Health Systems Providing Quality, Reliable, Basic Care Vital To Reducing Maternal Mortality
WBUR: We Know How To Reduce The Number Of Women Who Die In Childbirth. Do We Have The Will?
Ophelia Dahl, co-founder and chair of the board of Partners In Health
“…The reason why some women die in childbirth and others don’t has nothing to do with biology or culture, and everything to do with apathy. We have the tools to reduce maternal mortality, to stop what my colleagues would call ‘stupid deaths,’ especially in poor countries like Sierra Leone. There is no need for high-tech inventions. The need simply is for everyday interventions — such as electricity, sterile birth kits, blood banks, medications to stop hemorrhaging, doctors trained to provide emergency cesarean sections, and nurse anesthetists to assist in this most routine of operations. We need community health workers who know when their neighbors are pregnant so they can accompany them to prenatal checkups, where complications are detected early. And we need waiting homes where expectant mothers, many of whom live far from health facilities, can stay to be near trained professionals when labor begins. What I’m advocating for is not a miracle. It’s a health system that patients can rely on for quality, reliable care. It’s also a system that values mothers and mothering. We need both for humane maternal care — and that’s true from the poorest to the richest nations in the world…” (6/5).