Geneva: A woman dies every two minutes during pregnancy or childbirth, according to a report released by UN agencies on Thursday revealing alarming setbacks for women’s health over recent years.
The report, titled ‘Trends in maternal mortality’, showed that there were an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths worldwide in 2020. Severe bleeding, high blood pressure, pregnancy-related infections, complications from unsafe abortion, and underlying conditions that can be aggravated by pregnancy (such as HIV/AIDS and malaria) are the leading causes of maternal deaths.
These are all largely preventable and treatable with access to high-quality and respectful healthcare.
“While pregnancy should be a time of immense hope and a positive experience for all women, it is tragically still a shockingly dangerous experience for millions around the world who lack access to high quality, respectful health care,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), in a statement.
“These new statistics reveal the urgent need to ensure every woman and girl has access to critical health services before, during and after childbirth, and that they can fully exercise their reproductive rights,” he added.
Community-centered primary healthcare can meet the needs of women, children and adolescents and enable equitable access to critical services such as assisted births and pre- and postnatal care, childhood vaccinations, nutrition and family planning.
However, underfunding of primary health care systems, a lack of trained health care workers, and weak supply chains for medical products are threatening progress, the report noted.
“It is unacceptable that so many women continue to die needlessly in pregnancy and childbirth. Over 280,000 fatalities in a single year is unconscionable,” said UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem.
The COVID-19 pandemic may have further held back progress on maternal health, with the Covid infections increasing risks during pregnancy.
The report suggested countries take action to significantly accelerate progress to meet global targets for reducing maternal deaths, or else risk the lives of over 1 million more women by 2030.