Beyond the Safe Motherhood Initiative: Accelerated Action Urgently Needed to End Preventable Maternal Mortality

6 October, 2018

Further reduction in maternal mortality 'will require strengthening of networks, individuals, and organizations', say Mary Stanton and colleagues in the latest issue of Global Health: Science and Practice. We (HIFA members) have a potentially important role to play in this (and in other areas of health). This Monday 8th October the HIFA Steering Group is launching a member survey to hear your ideas on how we can strengthen our network. Watch this space!

CITATION: Beyond the Safe Motherhood Initiative: Accelerated Action Urgently Needed to End Preventable Maternal Mortality

Mary Ellen Stanton, Barbara E. Kwast, Theresa Shaver, Betsy McCallon, Marge Koblinsky

Global Health: Science and Practice Oct 2018, 6 (3) 408-412; DOI: 10.9745/GHSP-D-18-00100

'Many countries will need to double, or more than double, their current annual rate of reduction of maternal mortality to ensure sufficient progress toward national targets and the global Sustainable Development Goals. Dedication to the principles and actions of quality, equity, dignity, social justice, and human rights are key.'


Complications during pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death of 15 to 19-year-old girls globally.

While facility delivery is rapidly increasing, even now more than 30 million women deliver yearly without the care of a skilled birth attendant.4 Many, including those who do deliver in hospitals, receive substandard care in inadequate facilities and face disrespect and abuse from exhausted health care workers who are often disrespected themselves. Most significant of all is the unconscionable disparity between rich and poor nations—the lifetime risk of maternal death is more than 100 times greater in sub-Saharan Africa than in Europe.

Mobile technologies and social media have expanded messaging to and communication with consumers of care and diminished the isolation of rural centers of care. However, the improved messages to families may drive increased expectations and use of services before services are ready and may incur considerable cost without evidence of improvement in outcomes or health impact.

No woman, no matter in what country she resides, should die of complications during pregnancy, childbirth or the postpartum period, nor lose her newborn in the process.

Success will require that ending preventable mortality remains a political priority. This will necessitate strengthening of networks, individuals, and organizations to keep up the pressure, push for investment in what works, be bold in tackling new challenges, and ultimately support nations to have resilient health systems to meet the needs of all people.


Best wishes, Neil

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 18,000 members in 177 countries, interacting on five global forums in three languages. He also currently chairs the Dgroups Foundation (, which supports 800 communities of practice on international development, health and social justice. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: