Monthly Archives: April 2012

Global Participation in Preventing Maternal Mortality

 Jenna King 

Every year 600,000 maternal deaths occur in developing countries such as Cambodia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. Resources are limited and it is often is a struggle for a pregnant mother to provide proper nutrition for herself and for her growing baby to survive. Taking action to reduce excessive maternal mortality is a priority of the UN millenium development goals. Education on preventing disease as well as providing soap and clean water, preventing malnutrition by allowing women to garden and grow food for their families, as well as training mid-wives to assist in labor will decrease the amount of deaths during childbirth. By supplying resources for proper vitamins and nutrients, preventing infectious diseases, and developing mid-wifery training programs, we will see a dramatic positive increase of maternal health world wide.

In order for the mother’s new body to develop properly for her baby she must intake enough essential vitamins such as calcium, iron, and vitamins A, B, C, and D. The availability of vitamins is scarce in developing countries of the world, and it is rare to have adequate protein, sugars, starches, and carbohydrates in the overall nutrition of a mother. The provision of free or low-cost vitamin supplements in less economically advantaged areas is essential to prevent conditions like anemia, iron deficiency, and malnutrition. Malnutrition can be prevented by women being taught how to garden and grow their own food for prenatal nutrients and to make mashed up baby food with fruits and vegetables. This would supply families with their own sustainable food source, while bettering their overall nutritional health.

            Women already weakened by a lack of nutritious foods and vitamins are more vulnerable to complications from unassisted labor and delivery. The prevention of hemorrage is another important component of maternal health. Hemorrhages can occur when the uterus does not fully contract. This causes severe bleeding and can result in death in as little as two hours if not treated. If the woman survives from the loss of blood she may still develop a lifelong condition of anemia. Those who already have anemia are more vulnerable to death by loss of blood than those without anemia. To prevent this type of mortality we must provide medical assistance and set up emergency access to hospitalized care. To prevent hemorrhaging, midwives try to decrease the time the placenta is delivered after the child. Drugs should also be provided to allow the uterus to contract, and cutting the umbilical cord immediately after birth are both standard procedures for most hospitals. If a woman is allowed access to a hospital blood transfusions help to save lives of those who experience hemorrhaging.

Proper sanitation is also an issue in underdeveloped nations where clean water and soap are not always readily available. Clean water and soap help provide proper sanitation that are both necessary to prevent infectious disease through the contact or transmission of bacteria, pathogens, or viruses. HIV/AIDS is a common among societies with lack of resources for education and prevention, and resources for testing for the disease. Malaria is also a deadly disease that is caused by getting bitten by an infected female mosquito. Malaria can be spread from mother to infant through the placenta before or during labor/childbirth. Through education about infectious disease and through the provision of resources like hot water, soap, alcohol, peroxide, antibiotics, and sterile medical instruments we can start to prevent a large portion of mortalities and morbidities from happening each year. Unsafe abortion is also an increasing cause of maternal death. Unsanitary and often rusty tools used to perform such action increases the chance of infection and complications of the reproductive system.

Organizations now provide funding and assistance for women who may become pregnant, who are pregnant, and those who have recently given birth. Global maternal health organizations such as The World Health Organization try to prevent mortality by training midwives to prevent hemorrhage, infection, high-blood pressure, obstructed labor, and unsafe abortion. The use of mid-wifery is very common, but whether the midwives are trained and using sterile instruments is crucially important. For successful labor women need to be in a comfortable environment where they feel safe and confident in their surroundings. Mid-wives are usually the only form of assistance women in rural areas receive, and the use of proper medical treatment such as checking vital signs like blood pressure, oxygen levels, temperature, and pulse rate are often difficult to distinguish without tools and knowledge provided by organizations.

Maternal mortality poses a challenge to health systems in developing countries with the lack of essential resources necessary for adequate nutrition and sanitation especially for new mothers and infants. Through education and by providing international funding for women’s health such as vitamins, clean water and soap, and other basic resources, we will see a dramatic increase in overall maternal health globally. The fight for survival is continuing to be a struggle for women who are becoming exposed to disease and malnutrition in their ever changing environment. Providing basic resources to underprivileged women will be the start of a healthier generation, and will be the dawn of self-sustainability. Everyone should get involved whether it is a small effort such as spreading your concern among friends and family, or a large effort such as moving to a developing country to assist women with child bearing obstacles including availability of vitamins, sanitation, and global organizations providing midwifes for women in labor.