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Posts Tagged ‘access to health care’

Several leading media outlets are covering the news of dramatic global declines in maternal deaths–and raising questions about why a group of women’s health advocates pressured the Lancet to delay publishing the findings…

The New York Times

“…The study cited a number of reasons for the improvement: lower pregnancy rates in some countries; higher income, which improves nutrition and access to health care; more education for women; and the increasing availability of “skilled attendants” — people with some medical training — to help women give birth. Improvements in large countries like India and China helped to drive down the overall death rates.

But some advocates for women’s health tried to pressure The Lancet into delaying publication of the new findings, fearing that good news would detract from the urgency of their cause, Dr. Horton said in a telephone interview…”

Read the full story, Maternal Deaths Decline Sharply Across the Globe, on NYTimes.com.

The New York Times Freakonomics Blog

The New York Times Freakonomics Blog also had something to say about this story and provided some background information on the history of maternal mortality–including a reference to the contributions to maternal health of Ignatz Semmelweis, the Hungarian physician who discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically reduced with basic hand washing (ie. Medical students needed to wash their hands between cutting open cadavers and delivering babies!!).

Read the full post, Who’s Not Happy About a Falling Maternal Death Rate?, on the New York Times Freakonomics Blog.

Also see stories from the Associated Press, Lancet reports drops in maternal childbirth deaths, says it was pressured not to publish story; and from the Washington Post, Fewer Women Dying in Childbirth, Study Says.

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In honor of World Health Day, I wrote a post for the Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases blog, End the Neglect. The post looks at the relationship between these two historically neglected global health issues–and calls for more integration.

End the Neglect

“The theme of this year’s World Health Day is “Urbanization and Health.” Maternal mortality and morbidity, and neglected tropical diseases have a hugely debilitating impact on urban slum populations—who often lack access to health services. I would like to take this day to celebrate the increased attention to the connected issues of neglected tropical diseases and maternal health and to highlight the importance of a comprehensive, integrated approach to maternal health. This sort of approach not only includes universal access to reproductive health services but also addresses neglected tropical diseases—and their impact on maternal morbidity and mortality…”

Read the full post, Women and NTDs: Shared History, Shared Hope.

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Doctors in Nicaragua refuse to provide Amalia, a Nicaraguan woman with a ten year old daughter, with the care that she needs to fight her cancer. Chemotherapy could save her but it might also harm or lead to the death of her baby—and doctors fear legal consequences of performing a therapeutic abortion.

RH Reality Check

This article explains how the revised penal code (that stipulates prison sentences for girls and women who seek abortion services and for health professionals who provide abortion services) is inconsistent with Nicaragua’s Obstetric Rules and Protocols that are issued by the Ministry of Health. The article also tells Amalia’s personal story, putting a human face on the issue of access to therapeutic abortions in Nicaragua.

Read the article here.

Click here to read Amnesty International’s report on the abortion ban in Nicaragua–and watch a short video on the issue.

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International aid groups and public hospitals are struggling to keep up with births in post-earthquake Haiti. The city still lacks adequate numbers of health workers and supplies–leaving many pregnant women without access to obstetric care services.

Miami Herald

A young Haitian doctor finishes delivering 26-year-old Joanne Desir's first baby as she's being held by her husband, Patrice Zephir, in the back of a pickup truck outside the General Hospital in Port-au-Prince. PATRICK FARRELL / MIAMI HERALD STAFF

“..There are new concerns for the 63,000 pregnant women now living in Port-au-Prince. More than 7,000 are expected to give birth this month.

`People here are giving birth under the absolute worst conditions,’ said Dr. Jonathan Evans, a pediatric gastroenterologist volunteering at the University of Miami field hospital. `They can’t find access to midwives. Little problems become big problems.’

In the sprawling camp at the city center of Champs de Mars, where the fruit flies are unrelenting and the stench of human waste inescapable, Antoine Toussaint worries about the health of her unborn child.

Toussaint, 27, is nine months into her pregnancy. She lost her last baby, a son, in childbirth two years ago. This time, Toussaint will have only the help of her family if complications arise…”

Read the full story here.

For more information on the University of Miami response to the earthquake, click here.

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The Pulitzer Center recently asked readers and Twitter followers what international stories deserve more attention in the year ahead and settled on a list of five crises–including maternal mortality–to focus on in 2010.

Untold Stories: The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

” As an organization whose primary mission is to surface under-reported global issues, we know all too well that the number of such stories reaches far beyond what any short list could capture. Every month we receive proposals for stories around the world that deserve our attention. While last year we were able to support close to 50 global reporting projects, we cannot count the number of compelling proposals we had to turn down. In selecting the issues for this list that we feel are most important to highlight in the upcoming year, we focused on overarching systemic crises that we have covered and believe are important to continue covering.”
The center has decided to focus on maternal mortality, water, food insecurity, women and children issues, and fragile states in 2010.

A Focus on Maternal Mortality

“According to the World Health Organization, hundreds of thousands of women die each year from complications from childbirth due to ineffective or inaccessible health care. The Pulitzer Center has funded work on this issue with its reporting project covering maternal mortality in Guinea-Bissau and will focus on maternal mortality in more depth and across multiple regions in 2010.”

Click here for a recent post on this blog that highlights the Pulitzer Center’s current coverage of maternal mortality in Guinea-Bissau.

Click here to read more about the Pulitzer Center’s focus on food insecurity, water, women and children issues, and fragile states.

Click here to visit the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting website.

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