Caring for mother and child
Have you ever wondered how vital the health of women is pre and post-delivery? How even slight ignorance during this crucial stage can be life threatening to both, the mother and the child! If reports are an indication, then the situation is pretty serious. For, in developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for women of reproductive age, and one child in 12 does not reach his or her fifth birthday. It's because of this alarming situation and realization to manage the rising problem that the issue is getting increased attention. Highlighting an invisible health crisis, the World Health Organization (WHO) has made maternal and child health the focus of World Health Day (WHD) this year.
Accordingly, the chosen theme is "Make every mother and child count". The slogan reflects the reality that today, governments and the international community need to make the health of women and children a high priority.
But, the question arises: why target this particular area? The reasons are many, and disturbing. As per statistics, in India alone, 136,000 women die in pregnancy and childbirth every year. Globally, every minute, a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. That means, 1,600 deaths every year, more than half a million deaths every year worldwide. In addition, for every woman who dies in childbirth, around 20 more suffer injury, infection, or disease. Not only that, some one million children are left motherless each year as a result of maternal deaths. In establishing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) four years ago, the international community committed itself to reducing maternal deaths by three quarters, and reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015.
Millions of women and children are dying needlessly, and we are failing to act. We do not need to discover a cure for child birth complications, or for a little girl with pneumonia, we simply need to apply the knowledge we already have, to saving lives. Women need not die in childbirth. The vast majority of maternal deaths could be prevented if women had access to, and used, skilled care during pregnancy, childbirth and first month after delivery, or to quality family planning services.
The maternal and child mortality rate can be brought down and reduced by successfully taking care of a number of vital factors. To take a cue, pregnant women should have access to well-equipped resources (read health center), skilled birth attendance, and no delay in being transported to the health centre.
Elaborating it further, both pre and post-delivery care is important for the health of the mother and the child. The other related issues as well that can help in reducing the mortality rates, to name a few, are nutrition of the mother during pregnancy and adequate rest, age at the time of first pregnancy, and access to family planning measures. What's important is that the status of women should be raised. They should have access to the information about their health and care during the pregnancy. Also their decision-making capacity should be improved. And they should be aware (and decide themselves) about the quality of the care in the hospitals and health centers."
To end the discussion, it goes without saying that maternal mortality is a human rights and equity issue. Ensuring that mothers survive pregnancy and childbirth is fundamentally about women's rights and about creating a just and equitable society.
HT Media Ltd
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