Zero tolerance to maternal and newborn deaths

Every day, almost 800 women die in pregnancy or childbirth. Every two minutes, the loss of a mother shatters a family and threatens the well-being of surviving children. Evidence shows that infants whose mothers die are more likely to die before reaching their second birthday than infants whose mothers survive. And for every woman who dies, 20 or more experience serious complications. Of the hundreds of thousands of women who die during pregnancy or childbirth each year, 90 per cent live in Africa and Asia. (UNFPA)


Uganda today October 17, 2012 joins the rest of the world to mark Safe Motherhood Day with the THEME “Zero tolerance to maternal and newborn deaths.” The national celebrations will be held in Kyenjojo district.

The Safe Motherhood Initiative was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other international agencies in 1987. At that time the number of women suffering maternal deaths worldwide was estimated to be at least 600,000 each year – with 99% of deaths occurring in the developing world. The most common direct causes of such deaths were known to be:  Severe bleeding, Infection leading to sepsis, The effects of unsafe abortion, Eclampsia and Obstructed labour .


Methods of effective prevention or cure for these conditions are well known and widely accessible for women in the developed world. But in developing countries the risks of these conditions occurring are higher and are made more dangerous by the widespread incidence of: Malnutrition; Lack of access to clean water and sanitation;  Epidemic levels of disease such as malaria, tuberculosis, HIV and AIDS; Inadequate or unaffordable transport facilities in remote areas so that women with complications cannot reach skilled help; Inadequate human resources, drugs and equipment being available at health centres and hospitals; Inequitable opportunities for women and girls, leading to poor levels of education including knowledge about their own bodies and basic hygiene practices; Inequitable social and cultural status for women and girls, leading to inability to achieve their human rights, including control over their own reproductive health. All of these issues, including maternal and infant mortality, have since been identified among the targets of the Millennium Development Goals, set by the United Nations in 2000. By providing high quality care, and being aware of the broader issues, midwives can optimize situations – for example by teaching the women they care for to make best use of limited food and clean water supplies, to reduce the risks of spreading infection and to recognize the signs of potential complications in pregnancy and labour. (International Midwives)


This year’s Theme ‘Zero tolerance to maternal and newborn deaths’ calls for investing more in the safety of mothers for better livelihoods and focuses on promoting key interventions in ensuring safe motherhood. It is closely linked to increasing investments in maternal health and meeting the MDG targets. It is crucial to note that working for the survival of mothers is human right and is crucial for development for international conference on population  and development and the Millennium development goals” Hon. Sylvia Namabidde – the chairperson of Network for African Women Ministers and Parliamentarians – Uganda chapter noted. (Uganda Picks)

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