In this episode Julia Wiklander, Felogene Anumo and Zanele Mabaso introduce you to new research that was published just a few weeks ago in The Lancet’s Maternal Health Series. Girls’ Globe was in New York City at the launch of the series and Girls’ Globe blogger Zanele Mabaso from South Africa spoke with one of the authors, Dr. Oona Campbell, from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The Maternal Health Series by the Lancet shines a light on the causes, trends, and prospects for maternal health in the current era of rapid demographic, epidemiological, and socioeconomic transition. It includes analysis of experiences from the past 25 years and shows us the growing threat to progress caused by poor quality care and inequity of access.

The Lancet Maternal Health Series reveals great disparities in quality of care for women during pregnancy and childbirth. In the past 16 years we have seen amazing progress – where maternal deaths have fallen by nearly half (44%) since 1990, yet some countries and some groups of women saw very little – if any – progress. Despite a lot of political attention on maternal health before the Millennium Development Goals were due to be achieved – they fell short on achievement in maternal health. The global goals for 2030 include a 68% reduction in maternal deaths – which will require tremendous action.

In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman’s lifetime risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth remains at the horrifically high rates of 1 in 36 compared with 1 in 4900 in high income countries. Since 1990, the gap between the group of countries with the highest level of maternal mortality and those with the lowest has doubled in size!

Now, this is urgent business and an urgent human rights issue – because 210 million women become pregnant and 140 million newborns are delivered every year. Quality of care must be increased and disparities must be decreased.

The Lancet Maternal Health Series unveils two extremes that far too many women experience when accessing maternal health services: too little, too late or too much, too soon. And other women receive no care at all. These extremes show that far too much of maternal health care is not grounded in evidence.

Listen to the episode:


If you want to get involved, here’s what you can do:

  • Read the evidence from the The Lancet’s Maternal Health Series yourself
  • Read more about maternal health on Girls’ Globe
  • Watch this video interview about the problems of overmedicalization of childbirth with Professor Cecily Begley
  • FInd out what groups are vulnerable in your community and country. What are politicians, civil society groups or others are doing about it?
  • Get in touch with us at The Mom Pod by email – – to get involved with blogging or advocating at the international level.

Cover Photo Credit: Federico Mena Quintero (CC/Flickr)

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