Hope at last: Making every mother and child count
Letter from PMNCH Director Dr Flavia Bustreo
12 April 2010 | Geneva - The Lancet has published an important article by researchers at the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington reporting significant progress in reducing the unacceptably high number of maternal deaths in many low income countries.
The IHME estimates are consistent with recent data from large countries, such as India, which has invested significantly in reproductive maternal and child health through its National Rural Health Mission.
Although debate may continue about the numbers, it is clear that the new estimates offer hope at last that the lives of women are finally being counted and that our collective actions are starting to reduce this tragedy in the new millennium.
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health was founded in 2005 to make every mother and child count. Thanks to the unending work of more than 300 partners, the world is seeing signs of progress across the continuum of care. This is a special year for maternal and child heath, and many more partners, including the private sector, are stepping in to play their part.
The new estimates from the Lancet, which show a 35% reduction in maternal deaths between 1980 and 2008, underline our key message: Progress is possible and must be pursued vigorously. This will reassure our investors that their commitments are paying off.
But there is still a long way to go. The rate of progress needs to accelerate, the poorest need to have full access to quality services, and investments need to increase dramatically if we are to meet our Millennium Development Goal targets of a three-quarter reduction in maternal deaths and universal access to reproductive health by 2015.
In short, these encouraging results are no reason for complacency. Now is the time to redouble our efforts.
We are writing a new chapter in the story of maternal health, and The Partnership will continue to harness the power of our partners to achieve our common goals.
Dr Flavia Bustreo, PMNCH Director