Every day, 800 women are dying in childbirth. And too often, the baby will die as well—a newborn who lost their mother in childbirth has less than a 37 percent chance of reaching their first birthday. Global maternal mortality rates have remained practically unchanged over the past eight years, and in some countries, including the United States, they have risen.
The world must do better for women, babies, and families. While the numbers are distressing, the amount of research that has been done and the insights learned over the past decade far exceed what was known in the twentieth century. But we can’t let research stay in a lab or on a page. Insights and solutions have to be implemented in the communities that need them most.
In the report, Melinda and Bill called out seven inexpensive innovations that can dramatically reduce the risk of death for moms and babies. Some of the most effective include treating postpartum hemorrhage, the leading cause of maternal death by 60%; treatments for anemia, which affects almost 37% of pregnant women; and antibiotics that reduce infections during pregnancy, the cause of 23% of maternal deaths in the United States.
We can address maternal and newborn health to counter stalling progress against preventable death and disease for women and children in low-income countries. It’s time to think about how we can invest in those solutions.
At Gates Philanthropy Partners, our empowerment and opportunity fund centers on the idea that women and girls who can change their world will change all of ours. One of our three streams of focus in this fund is family planning, or increasing access for women and adolescents to decide whether they are ready for pregnancy and—when they are—ensuring healthy timing and spacing of those pregnancies.
There’s work to be done. Joining us in this fund means that there are more of us collectively ensuring that mothers and newborns around the world are given the opportunity to live a healthy and productive life.