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July is Maternal and Child Health Month in Rotary

Maternal and child health is a significant public health issue. Together, we can end preventable deaths among all women, children and adolescents and improve their health and well-being. Today, still too many women, infants and children worldwide have little or no access to essential, quality health services and education, clean air and water, and adequate sanitation and nutrition.

Maternal health means women's health during pregnancy, childbirth, and postnatal. Each stage should be a positive experience, ensuring women and their babies reach their full potential for health and well-being. Although a progress occurred in the last two decades, about 287 000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth in 2020. This number is unacceptably high.

The most common direct causes of maternal injury and death are excessive blood loss, infection, high blood pressure, unsafe abortion, obstructed labor, and indirect causes such as anemia, malaria, and heart disease.

Most maternal deaths are preventable with timely management by a skilled health professional working in a supportive environment. Ending preventable maternal death must remain at the top of the global agenda. At the same time, simply surviving pregnancy and childbirth can never be the marker of successful maternal health care. It is critical to expand efforts reducing maternal injury and disability to promote health and well-being.

Every pregnancy and birth is unique. Addressing inequalities that affect health outcomes, especially sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender, is fundamental to ensuring all women have access to respectful and high-quality maternity care."

About 140 million births take place every year. The proportion attended by skilled health personnel has increased: from 58% in 1990 to 81% in 2019. It is mainly due to higher numbers of births at a health facility. Deaths from complications during pregnancy, childbirth, and postnatal have declined by 38% in the last two decades. However, an average reduction of just under 3% per year, this pace of progress is far too slow. It also hides vast inequalities within and across countries. More than half of maternal deaths occur in fragile and humanitarian settings. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia share the greatest burden of maternal deaths, 86% of the global total in 2017.

Rotary makes high-quality health care available to vulnerable mothers and children so they can live longer and grow stronger. We expand access to quality care, so mothers and children everywhere can have the same opportunities for a healthy future. An estimated 5.9 million children under five die each year due to malnutrition, inadequate health care, and poor sanitation — all of which can be prevented.

Source: World Health Organization (WHO)


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