Call to Action for an International Day for Maternal Health and Rights

Vineeta Gupta MD, JD, LL.M Technical Director, Global Women's Health American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

Vineeta Gupta MD, JD, LL.M
Technical Director, Global Women’s Health
American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

A woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth every two minutes. Almost all of these deaths (99%) are in developing countries. The most heartbreaking part is that the vast majority of these deaths are preventable.

As the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women, ACOG strongly advocates for quality health care for women – everywhere.

That’s why, in an effort to demonstrate the urgency of global action to protect maternal health and rights, ACOG recognizes today as the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights.

Every woman has the right to dignity, respect and skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth.

ACOG’s Office of Global Women’s Health (OGWH) works towards these goals every day. OGWH was created to improve women’s health globally through capacity building, collaboration, and health system strengthening. The Office engages members with global partners to mobilize resources for the support of best practices in women’s health care worldwide through education, information-sharing, training, quality improvement, and advocacy.

ACOG is a founding partner of Saving Mothers Giving Life (SMGL), a public-private partnership aimed to dramatically reduce maternal and newborn mortality in sub-Saharan African countries. SMGL addresses the three delays that prevent women from accessing maternal health services: delay in seeking services, delay in reaching services and delay in receiving quality care. By working hand-in-hand with Ugandan, Zambian and Nigerian governments, the initiative strives to make high-quality, safe childbirth services available and accessible to women and their newborns. Areas of focus are the critical period after labor, delivery and the first 48 hours postpartum. ACOG collaborates with in-country partners to build skills and capacity of the providers in Zambia to reduce maternal mortality and morbidity due to postpartum hemorrhage.

On the Federal level, ACOG supports additional funding for maternity care quality collaboratives that bring together leaders in obstetric and neonatal health care to recommend local solutions to prevent pregnancy-related morbidity and mortality and improve outcomes for women and infants.

We have joined the Call to Action with CHANGE and hundreds of other organizations to celebrate and recognize today, April 11th, as the International Day for Maternal Health and Rights.

We urge you to do so too!

8 thoughts on “Call to Action for an International Day for Maternal Health and Rights

  1. Dr. Gupta, nice picture and segway from the lead story, maternal deaths in Africa, which most US women and US physicians, frankly just don’t care too much about, in Aftica, which has been going on for decades, to something American Obstetrical leaders, are just starting to acknowledge in the US, which has been a steadily increasing ratio after Obstetrical training was no longer taken as seriously as it was by the
    late Dr. Jack Pritchard, before his 1990 retirement, who brought the maternal death ratio to its lowest point in history. He is widely regarded as the Father of Modern Obstetrics.

    The US, which previously had the greatest healthcare system in the world, despite quantum leaps in technology, allowed a year after year increase in the maternal death ratio to at least 3 times that nadir of Dr. Pritchard’s influence, by current (secret) statistics.

    And now, buried in your post, is a comment calling for solutions to this “local” problem. Still not sure what that mechanism for providing these suggestions is, wasn’t clear from your post.

    With all due respect, the politics of bringing this hugely important issue, finally to the light of day, after the original article was published 2 years ago, is dicey.

    When we finally are able to concede the shift in policy by once great obstetrical programs, to discriminating against some extremely capable potential residents from being allowed to continue the tradition of possessing the talents and circumstances for the necessary intensity, hours, pressure, and autonomy, safely taught through proven protocols, unrestricted by uninformed regulators, the maternal death rate may again return to 1990 levels.

    It starts in residency, there are no shortcuts to learning instinctive abruption management, hemorrhage prevention and treatment, shoulder dystocia (posterior arm delivery) expediting deliveries with forceps, protecting the anal sphincter, preventing and treating childbirth related vaginal laxity, and preventing harm to premature neonates.

    We have made a big mistake thinking Obstetrics is not that hard, midwives can do it, MFM’s are there to help with complications, post residency simulator CME and other courses will fill the void of knowledge for those unavoidable but predictable downturns, that should never evolve to crisis situations, much less death.

    Just be direct with those who dumbed down residency training in the first place, and retrace steps, until order is restored. The poor were never denied expert healthcare, and provided for the once expert training of residents. Costs were much lower in very respect and quality was higher.

    Please email if I can participate in a meaningful way. It is possible to do again that which worked in the past.
    We just did not stand up to the pressures at the time when some of us knew where this would lead.

    Most sincerely,

    Chris Kuhne MD

  2. I am glad to know that this day is so recognized by Physicians in other parts of the world. I am an Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, working in one of the states in Nigeria, and I’m not impressed with the level of recognition or attention we give this day, here, where it matters most.

  3. Here, here! So important to advocate for women who cannot advocate for themselves.

  4. Your article is very commendable. African leaders should allocate appropriate resources to infrastructural and man power development of their health sector.
    For example in Nigerian construction and equipping 6 ultramodern hospitals in each of the 6 geo- political zone specifically for women and child health,coupled with adequate enlightenment of the populace will reverse the poor indices of maternal and child mortality and morbidity.unfortunately, our leaders may never see the need.
    I will be glad to partner with your organization to ensuring that our women do not loose their live where ensuring sustainability of lives.
    I will be available at the ACOG meeting come 14th May .
    Thank you.
    Dr Okangba B.C

    • Hello Dr. Okangba,
      I want to let you know about a presentation on Friday, May 13th from 10-12 at the Marriott Marquis in the Shaw Room in Washington DC, entitled: Professional Association Strengthening – An introduction. Dr. Gupta will lead a session that will focus on the roles that Professional Associations (PA) can play in achieving global health goals. PA’s are underutilized and there are various strategies to leverage their enormous potential in collaborations, including in public private partnerships. The session intends to foster connections and increase knowledge through conversations among new and established members of the global health community. A breadth of sectors – private, non-profit, government, academic and donor – will be represented among the event’s discussion group leaders and attendees.
      If you are in town and would like to attend this event, please join us.

  5. Very very important to save the mothers due to pregnancy Stress is to educate the people when they r to consult Obstrician n on the part of govt to provide facilities at delivery centres to prevent such deaths . The topic chosen is nice n necessity of the today’s world n has covered all aspects .I congratulate Dr Vaneeta for sch wonderful talk

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