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Maternal Mortality...Serious yet not

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  • j_alinio
    The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world . This is a famous poem from William Ross Wallace which praises motherhood as the preeminent
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 2, 2007
      "The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world".

      This is a famous poem from William Ross Wallace which praises
      motherhood as the preeminent force to change the world. But will this
      ever happen when death strikes right at birth? How can a mother ever
      rock her child when she dies even before she could even hear her baby
      cry? This may sound rhetoric, on the contrary, maternal mortality is
      indeed a serious problem the medical world especially in developing
      countries are beset.

      The World Health Organization (WHO) defines maternal death as the
      death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of
      pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy,
      from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its
      management but not from accidental or incidental causes.

      Generally, maternal death is distinguished between direct and
      indirect. Direct maternal death is the result of a complication of the
      pregnancy, delivery, or their management while indirect maternal death
      is a pregnancy-related death in a patient with a preexisting or newly
      developed health problem. However, there are also maternal deaths
      caused by accident or by domestic violence. But these two are more
      considered as "other causes" or incidental.

      Beyond Numbers

      In the past, the issue on maternal death has not received much
      attention, but because of the alarming incidents reported especially
      in third world countries during the early part of this century, not
      only were the medical practitioners alarmed but the governments as
      well. The United Nations estimated global maternal mortality at
      529,000, of which less than 1% occurred in the developed world in the
      year 2000. Another report revealed that there are approximately 27
      maternal deaths per 100,000 live births each year in developed
      countries but in developing countries, the average is 18 times higher,
      at 480 deaths per 100,000 live births.

      In 2003, the WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA produced a report with statistics
      gathered from 2000. The world average was 400, the average for
      developed regions were 20, and for developing regions 440. The worst
      countries were: Sierra Leone (2,000), Afghanistan (1,900), Malawi
      (1,800), Angola(1,700), Niger (1,600), Tanzania (1,500), Rwanda
      (1,400), Mali (1,200), Somalia, Zimbabwe, Chad, Central African
      Republic, Guinea Bissau (1,100 each), Kenya, Mozambique, Burkina Faso,
      Burundi, and Mauritania (1,000 each).

      Known Causes

      Medical practitioners have specified the major causes of maternal
      death and the top culprit is severe bleeding/hemorrhage which is 25%.
      This is followed by infections (13%), eclampsia (12%), and obstructed
      labor (8%). The report likewise indicated that 20% of maternal deaths
      are due to other indirect causes such as malaria, anemia, HIV/AIDS and
      cardiovascular disease, complicate pregnancy or are aggravated by it.

      Clear outlook

      Despite the gravity of the problem, medical practitioners assured
      that at least half of all maternal deaths can be averted through a
      combined strategy of family planning, primary health care and legal
      abortion. Researchers also concluded that a fertility rate reduction
      of 25-35% resulting from more widely available family planning would
      also lower maternal mortality by 1/4. Making abortions legal and safe
      could reduce the toll an additional 20-25%. On the part of the
      governments, a number of steps have been charted. Among these is to
      make all pregnancies safer thru increased investments in prenatal
      health care and reducing the number of high-risk pregnancies which is
      foreseen to prevent another 20-25% of deaths. And to make everyone,
      not only medical practitioners but all concerned individuals aware of
      the rising maternal mortality, In 1998, WHO designated Safe Motherhood
      as the focus for World Health Day (April 7), indicating the importance
      of this issue globally.

      And just as Wallace further said in his poem "Woman, how divine your
      mission Here upon our natal sod!" we must value our women and make
      them aware of their importance in this world.

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