Author: Caitlin Callahan

Post-2015 Priorities: Maternal Health

As we start to count down the last year of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Challenge, we should celebrate the positive change associated with MDG5: improving maternal health. Since 1990, the world has experienced an incredible 47% decline in the rate of maternal mortality. However, many countries will not reach MDG5. MDG5 is measured by two factors: achieving universal access to reproductive health for all women by 2015 and cutting the rate of maternal death by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015. Many countries have made remarkable progress, like several sub-Saharan African countries, which have halved their maternal mortality rates since 1990. Yet, the area still accounts for half of all maternal deaths globally. Every minute, a woman still dies during pregnancy or childbirth. That’s half a million unnecessary deaths every year. According to the WHO, a woman’s ‘lifetime risk of maternal death’, or the probability that a 15 year old will eventually die from maternal complications, is 1 in 160 in developing countries, while it is only 1 in 3700 in developed countries. But this is not just a …

A Human-Rights Based Approach to Family Planning

Every minute, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, and 99% of those deaths occur in developing countries and other low-resource settings. The majority of these deaths are preventable. Family planning and comprehensive reproductive health care allow women to space their pregnancies until they are physically able to care for their children. However, 222 million women lack access to contraception and reproductive health services. The World Health Organization posits that by providing all women access to effective contraception the global rate of maternal deaths would be reduced by one-third. This will prevent 54 million unintended pregnancies, 26 million abortions (including 16 million unsafe abortions), and 1.1 million infant deaths. Adolescent women, in particular, would benefit from improved access to family planning services. Maternal mortality is the leading cause of death among girls under 15 years old in most developing countries. Six out of ten women in least developed countries are not using contraception, despite their desire to delay or prevent pregnancy. The global demand is real. Public health interventions should continue to focus on bolstering voluntary family planning programs for all women. A woman’s lack …