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Maternal Deaths Among Marginalized Women Could Be Prevented With Access To Care, Information

“While reports from the United Nations as well as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) indicate that maternal deaths are declining around the world, far too many women continue to die from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth,” Ana Langer, director of the Women and Health Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health, writes in the Huffington Post’s “Global Motherhood” blog. “In fact, every 90 seconds a young woman dies unnecessarily when she is giving life,” she continues, noting, “More than 90 percent of these deaths could be avoided, if all women had timely access to good quality care.”

“Most maternal deaths are due to obstetric complications,” and “[n]inety-nine percent of these deaths happen among the poorest and most disempowered women in the world,” Langer writes. “These complications do not discriminate; they happen in developed and developing countries and among rich and poor women alike,” she notes, adding, “While most maternal deaths happen in developing countries, the United States is also facing significant problems with maternal health.” She continues, “For many years, the global health community has had the clinical knowledge and tools to successfully address the unexpected complications that can arise during the time of delivery and the postpartum period, the most dangerous period for both mothers and babies,” and writes, “What is missing is access to high quality care and information for the most marginalized.” Langer provides a link to a video of a panel discussion featuring herself, Julio Frenk, dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, and Christy Turlington Burns, founder of the Every Mother Counts advocacy campaign, and co-hosted by Harvard and the Huffington Post (9/28).

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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.