Six of the countries of the East African Community – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania – recently concluded public hearings on a new sexual and reproductive health bill. Proponents of the bill argue that it will improve access to sexual and reproductive health which, in turn, will improve other public health and development indicators such as maternal mortality and HIV infection rates. But the bill has faced fierce opposition since it was first tabled in 2017. The Conversation Africa’s Ina Skosana spoke to researchers Anthony Ajayi and Nicholas Etyang to unpack what the bill covers and where the sticking points are
When I want to learn more about a subject I always turn to documentaries. They provide a quick way to get the facts and crucial information about an issue I am interested in and then if I want to learn more I turn to other resources including books, news articles, research papers, and the like.
While I know a considerable amount about two new documentaries coming to video on demand (VOD) this year, I know some don’t and can use these as jumping points to learn more about the maternal health crisis in the United States and sex trafficking around the world.
The COVID pandemic did much to upend global health. Not only were hospitals filled to overcapacity worldwide with patients experiencing severe COVID symptoms, but entire health systems were also brought to a halt. Routine medical procedures and quality care in other areas besides COVID were preempted by the global virus. This has caused global health goals to suffer, notably decreasing preventable maternal deaths.
This month the World Health Organization along with the UNFPA created new goals in order to get back on track to reach Sustainable Development Goal 3.1 – reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100 000 live births – by 2030. Right now, the estimates are at 211 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Currently, 810 women still die per day due to complications caused by pregnancy and childbirth. While this number is a drastic improvement from a decade ago there is still much to do in order to save more mothers’ lives not only in the United States but worldwide.
It is difficult to believe how much Haiti is suffering. Not only was its president assassinated a little over a month ago, but a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit last weekend with a death toll now of over 1400. And, if that is not enough, a tropical storm is quickly barreling its way towards the island where mudslides will inevitably cause additional deaths, injuries, and property damage. This is all amid an interim government that has not gotten its bearings after President
I had the privilege of visiting Haiti once. That was five years after the devastating earthquake in 2010 that killed 200,000 and injured 300,000. Even after five years I could clearly see where buildings had not been rebuilt and rubble was still bulldozed into corners across Port-au-Prince, Haiti’s capital.
Then, I went to see the work of Midwives for Haiti whose dedication to quality maternity care in the poorest country in the western hemisphere I admire greatly. While Midwives for Haiti was not immediately affected by the earthquake, there will undoubtedly be an increased need for its help in the region because as its Executive Director, Jane Drichta, said in her most recent newsletter, “Haiti is a small nation and what affects one, affects all.”
By Caroline Kinsella, Advocacy and Communications Intern, White Ribbon Alliance
One of the more hidden human rights abuses around the world is the fact that one billion people have no legal proof of identity. Alarmingly, UNICEF estimates that about one in four children under age 5, or 166 million, are unregistered and without any trace that they exist. Conversations about reducing global poverty and protecting the health and human rights of mothers and newborns must include the challenges of birth registration.
A single piece of paper has the power to transform a person’s future. Birth certificates are necessary to access government services, life-saving medical treatment, a nationality and age related legal protections. Legal proof of birth is often required to attend school and apply to higher education, as well as open a bank account and vote. Many of the individuals without a birth certificate today are children who were never registered at birth. In some cases, nobody knows for decades that a child does not have a birth certificate.
In Uganda, Senfuka Samuel, who goes by Sam, applied for a master’s degree program that required a birth certificate. As he did not have one, Sam had to venture to the hospital where he was born. There, he discovered that hospital records before the year 2000, including any proof of his birth, were destroyed in the civil war. Traveling hundreds of miles over two weeks, Sam spent his own money to first get issued a necessary ‘birth notification’ – a slip of paper with birth details handwritten by a midwife – to later gain a new legal birth certificate.
This year while we are all still mostly locked down due to Covid-19, there are ways in which we can donate to the issues we care about most. For SocialGoodMoms.com, our primary issue is mothers — always has been and always will be — and there are a vast majority of ways to help moms across the globe through donations this time of year.
Here are five organizations to donate to this Valentine’s Day to spread not only love, but maternal health and wellness.
It was a sunny afternoon as most days are in Ethiopia in April. I was taking an individual tour of a large hospital in the middle of Addis Ababa where I got to talk to doctors, nurses, and see waiting rooms and even patients who were recovering from care.
I distinctly remember the room of women who had recently had abortions or were awaiting one. The room was eerily silent despite the number of patients in the large recovery room with few windows and no air conditioning. Personal effects were on all of the beds: blankets, purses, food, extra clothes . Some of the women had female visitors, others did not. While the Ethiopian abortion law on the books is considered “semi-liberal” by African standards, there is some pushback on abortion services although in practice if a woman wants an abortion she can most likely get one. This is mostly to help decrease maternal mortality rates and to curb the rates of unsafe abortions.
As I concluded my tour, the last room I saw was where the abortions took place with all of its machines and lone hospital bed. At that moment I was glad that despite the law, these Ethiopian medical professionals along with the hospital’s policy allowed women to have a choice about their own bodies and reproductive rights.
I do not take pleasure in writing about black maternal health in general or specifically about black women who die either during pregnancy, giving birth, directly after birth, or even a year after having a baby. In fact, it is depressing. In this case, however, despite the other women who have died publicly during and/or because of childbirth, I decided to write about this mother … Continue reading Black Doctor Dies During Childbirth #MaternalHealth #BlackMaternalHeaLTH
The other day I wrote about a Youtube mom who recently gave birth to her son and then recognized that her blood pressure was too high after she was released from the hospital. She immediately visited her OBGYN and then ultimately was hospitalized due to the severity of her condition, preeclampsia. You can follow her journey at R & L Life. She, her husband, and sister have updated viewers about how she is doing. Watching her videos shows how difficult it is for her doctors to get her blood pressure down after several days. It is all to show that warning signs during and after pregnancy are important to listen to and act upon as she did.
A few years ago I was honored to speak at Blogher with Merck for Mothers. The panel was about maternal health outcomes globally as well as in the United States. As I have mentioned so many times on this blog, the United States leads the developing world with maternal health deaths. This number is exaccerbated by the sheer number of black women who die from pregnancy and delivery complications.
One of the key points we honed in on during the panel was the importance of women being advocates for themselves with their healthcare providers when they feel something is wrong. But, that is not always easy. Take Serena Williams for example. She basically had to beg doctors and nurses to get a CT scan to see if her lung had blood clots which she routinely got as an athlete. They finally relented and what did they find? Blood clots in her lungs. Serena saved her own life.
Many women, especially black women, are not afforded the opportunity to simply get a doctor or nurse to believe that they do not feel well and oftentimes their lives are hanging in the balance. In fact, NPR and ProPublica gathered over 200 stories from black women who felt that they had been “devalued and disrespected by medical providers” during their pregnancies.
I regularly watch a Youtube channel called R&L Life, a cute family channel out of Florida. The mother, Rachael, recently delivered her son and a few days later she had preeclampsia symptoms with massive swelling and high blood pressure. She and her husband went to her doctor only to discover she could have a seizure at any time because of her high blood pressure. She needed to be rushed to the hospital for oral medication and a magnesium drip.
United States maternal death statistics that have been used for over a decade have finally been updated. The CDC released 2018 national and state maternal death estimates last week. The numbers have increased dramatically and still remain the worst of any developed country in the world.
Currently, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) is 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births. In 2007, the MMR was 12.7 deaths per 100,000 live births. The CDC says the MMR increase largely comes from the new data and collection requirements now on standard death certificates. Starting in 2003, a checkbox requirement was placed on the U.S. Standard Certificate of Death in order to accurately record maternal deaths. The checkboxes are:
Not pregnant within past year
Pregnant at time of death
Not pregnant, but pregnant 43 days to 1 year before death
Not pregnant, but pregnant within 42 days of death
You have probably heard the story of Tashonna Ward, the 25-year-old Milwaukee woman who recently spent hours in the emergency room due to shortness of breath and died after waiting too long. Ward was told that she would spend between two to six hours in wait time at the ER according to distressing posts on her Facebook page. Preliminary tests were performed on Ward and showed she had cardiomegaly, an enlarged heart, but she was never admitted despite having chest pains and tightness of breath.
After waiting 2 hours and 29 minutes in the ER, Tashonna Ward and her sister decided to go to urgent care. She never made it. She passed out en route and collapsed and died in the urgent care parking lot. The cause of death: hypertensive cardiovascular disease.
While many reports mentioned the emergency room wait times that led to Ward’s death, a few have reported that she developed cardiomegaly due to pregnancy complications from a miscarriage in March of 2019. In fact, the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Report states that the “decedent did develop cardiomegaly during pregnancy.”
It has been a historic week with the announcement of Kamala D. Harris as the first black woman nominee for vice president. Pundits and political experts alike will, without doubt, parse through her record from her time working as DA of San Francisco and Attorney General of California as well as serving in the United States Senate. One thing is clear: Senator Harris has worked tirelessly on maternal health issues as it pertains to black women who are three times more likely than white women to die due to pregnancy and delivery complications.
Harris joined forces with Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-IL) and Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC) to introduce the Black Maternal Health Momnibus, a series of nine bills that take racial disparities out of the maternal health outcomes, funds communty-based maternal health organizations, improve data collection, and invests in digital health tools among other pertinent issues.
In February of this year, Harris convened a Black Maternal Health Roundtable where women recounted their experiences with health care providers during their pregnancies and experts discussed racial disparities in maternal health care.
Now that 2020 is in full swing I decided to catch up on the many maternal health and mortality articles that were published during the holiday season. There has been a lot of stellar reporting that you might have missed. I did. Here is a compilation of some of the articles I found the most compelling starting with a wrap-up post, 7 things I learned from spending a year reporting on mothers in Alabama, by Anna Claire Volle about the excellent year-long reporting she did on mothers in Alabama. I particularly liked