Every day, approximately 830 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth; 99% of these deaths occur in resource-limited countries. In addition, 15,000 children under five years old die each day around the world from treatable conditions, such as pneumonia and diarrhea.
Although these numbers are unacceptable, the world has witnessed great progress in the fight to bring the number of these deaths to zero.
Since 1990, the annual number of deaths of children under the age of five has been cut in half. This has largely been accomplished by expanding access to life-saving maternal and child health solutions, including trained health care workers, clean birthing practices, vaccines, nutritional supplements, and handwashing with soap. These solutions are common sense, proven, and cost-effective.
Despite success in reducing mortality rates, the world’s most vulnerable, hard-to-reach women and children continue to face great barriers to accessing basic health services. Pregnant women and mothers such as Mariama in Sierra Leone often cannot go to a health clinic because they are too far away.
Mariama gave birth to her baby in dangerous — and unfair — circumstances. She woke up in the middle of the night with labor pains and tried to walk to a clinic. But with neither a light nor medical tools, Mariama delivered her baby on the side of the road in a rural area and returned home that night with the umbilical cord still attached. The next morning, she was able to travel to a health post, and her baby thankfully survived.
While stories such as Mariama’s are all too common, we also know progress is possible. Here are four solutions that would save millions of lives of vulnerable mothers and children around the world.
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