27 Oct 2009

Call for swift action on maternal mortality

8:50 pm on 27 October 2009

Health ministers from around the world meeting in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa have agreed swift action must be taken to reduce the number of women dying during pregnancy and childbirth.

Hundreds of thousands of women around the world die needlessly during pregnancy and childbirth every year.

The meeting, organised by the United Nations Population Fund, aims to harness political will and money to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by two-thirds by 2015.

In fact, the meeting has been told that the number of women dying in this way is actually increasing in some nations.

The BBC reports that the ministers seemed to agree that family planning was the most cost-effective way of tacking the problem.

They also recognised that more investment was needed in primary and emergency healthcare to save the lives of both mothers and babies in the 15% of births when complications arise.

But many governments - like that of Ethiopia - have already invested heavily in training midwives only to see them go abroad to work. There are said to be more Ethiopian midwives working in Chicago now than in Addis Ababa.

No unanimous declaration was adopted at the meeting.