Newborn and maternal mortality in Nigeria
A mother holds her premature daughter at Turay Yaradua Maternal and Children’s Hospital in Nigeria.
Photo Credit: Gates Foundation on Flickr

Imagine this. You are almost nine months pregnant somewhere in rural Nigeria. It is 20 kilometers to the nearest clinic and you have no way to get there without walking. None of your friends or family can afford to help you nor are they able to take the time to care for you. This is something you’ll have to manage yourself.

If you have any complication, there are no resources in the clinic for emergency obstetric care, and you have no way to get to a hospital that can help you.

Or imagine that you live in Somalia, where the risk is high that you lose your baby during childbirth when there is no one else than an untrained traditional birth attendant who destroys the possibilities of life.

Or you’re pregnant in Afghanistan, Niger, or Chad. Some of the most dangerous places on earth to become pregnant and deliver a baby. What would you do when there is nothing else to choose?

It is estimated that 200,000 women and girls die due to pregnancy and childbirth related complications every year. That’s 800 girls and women every single day.

Pregnancy and childbirth is the most common cause of death for teenage girls between 15 and 19 years. For every girl or woman who dies, several more suffer complications that changes their lives forever. When a mother dies, the risk for her child to die before the age of five drastically increases.

When women die children die, leading to families and entire communities torn to pieces!

A sister holds her baby brother in Uttar Pradesh, India.  Photo Credit: Gates Foundation on Flickr
A sister holds her baby brother in Uttar Pradesh, India.
Photo Credit: Gates Foundation on Flickr

But pregnancy does not have to be a lottery of life and death depending on where you live! 80% of all maternal deaths can be avoided with access to emergency obstetric care and skilled health workers, such as trained midwives.

When girls and women have access to contraception, prenatal care and emergency obstetric care, we create a socially, economically and ecologically sustainable society. We reduce the risk of unsafe or illegal abortions. We increase opportunities for girls to get an education and empower women to decide over their future. We contribute to a development, which goes so much further than to the women and girls themselves.

When we invest in women we invest in society as a whole.

And, there is good news. In almost 20 years, we have almost halved the maternal mortality rate in the world. And it is proved that we can drastically change the status of girls and women today. Around the world, we are creating a revolution. Now we need to mobilize into action!

We need resources, political will and a change in social norms at the grassroots level. We need to increase knowledge, enhance girls’ and women’s rights and hold our leaders accountable.

We all have a role in contributing to change. Every single person has the possibility to influence change. Thanks to several different initiatives we are creating new opportunities for girls around the world. When we learn more, we can do more and inspire others to action!

We can save lives.

Here is a short list of things you can do to take part in saving mothers’ and babies’ lives:

No woman or girl should have to die when giving life. Maternal health is a human right, and girls’ rights are human rights. Together we can ensure that all women and girls survive their pregnancy.

Infographic below by USAID.

savingatbirth-1000Living Proof - Birth in NepalFeatured image credit: Gates Foundation on Flickr.

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