The Lancet Maternal Series
Making sure women throughout the world can give birth in a health facility, in the presence of a midwife, is the best strategy for substantially reducing maternal mortality worldwide, according to a landmark series of papers released by the Lancet on September 27 in London, England. The authors called on governments and donors to prioritise this strategy over alternatives including accompanied home births to save the lives of over half a million women who die in pregnancy or childbirth each year.
At the launch, PMNCH Director, Dr Francisco Songane called on all countries- both developing and donor countries- to act now: "We believe investment in women and mothers is critical. It will not only save mothers’ lives, but also the lives of newborns, children, indeed whole families. Giving birth in a safe, professional environment should no longer be a privilege for the rich---it is a right to which all women should have access." A second launch of the report in New York included PMNCH interim Steering members, including co-chair Ann Starrs, Family Care International, Anne Tinker, Save the Children.
The five papers that form the Lancet maternal survival series present the evidence for adopting the health centre strategy worldwide and detail the action required for its roll-out, including immediate priorities for governments and donors. The authors warn that without political commitment and investment in this approach, substantial declines in maternal mortality are unlikely in the next 10-20 years and MDG5—to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015—will not be met.