Avoidable maternal deaths: Three ways to help now

The current paper examines the realities of women delivering in resource-poor settings, and recommends cost-effective, scalable strategies for making these deliveries safer. Ninety-five percent of maternal deaths occur in poor settings, and the largest proportion of these deaths are women who deliver at home, far away from health care facilities, and without financial access to skilled providers. This situation will improve only when policymakers and programme planners refocus their attention on service delivery and financing interventions, with the potential to reach the largest portion of women living in places where mortality is the highest. We suggest three feasible interventions that can potentially minimise both demand and supply side problems of safe delivery: (1) misoprostol to treat postpartum haemorrhage, an easy to use and heat stable technology to reduce the leading cause of maternal deaths; (2) alternative providers, such as clinical officers, trained to offer emergency obstetric care services; (3) financing safe delivery through vouchers or other mechanisms that can be implemented in poor settings and made attractive to the donor community through output-based assistance (OBA).

Keywords: postpartum haemorrhage; maternal mortality; safe delivery; vouchers; misoprostol

Published In Global Public Health, Volume 4, Issue 6 November 2009 , pages 575 – 587