Shortage of Midwives Costs Lives

"More than a million mothers and newborn babies are dying each year from easily prevented birth complications."

What really gets to me here is the “easily prevented” part.

It’s too easy for me to believe that our world is a cruel place. It only takes looking at events like the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan to realize that, in spite of our best efforts, many things are out of our control. But maternal mortality is often something we can control, but it still evades our grasp.

With all of the advances — social, scientific, etc.— that we have made in the modern world, there is no reason that over a million women and children should be dying from easily preventable birth complications.

It always seemed devastating to me that women and children could die — would die — because they didn’t have access to basic care. One of the reasons I got involved with Saving Mothers was because of this idea that there are relatively easy solutions for serious health issues — and that providing basic things, like clean water or inexpensive medicines, can make a huge difference in the lives of many.

A recent report from the organization Save the Children highlights the tragedy of this situation in the developing world. In a Reuters review, the reporter stated that “midwives trained in just eight procedures, including keeping newborns warm and fed, could immediately cut newborn deaths by more than a third in the 68 countries with the worst neonatal mortality rates.” There’s a clear solution here: educate midwives and give them incentive to work in the places where they are needed.

Of course, that’s easier said than done. How do you actually get these services to the people who need them most? It’s a complex and fascinating question. One that Saving Mothers is striving to answer.

Coming up soon, we will be sharing more posts from the field from OBGYN Kirin Chawla. Kirin is currently in Liberia and will be chronicling her volunteer experience with Saving Mothers.

More food for thought: A lovely piece on NPR about a midwife working in Afghanistan.

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