Last weekend the government of Malawi announced that it will adopt a new plan to combat high levels of maternal mortality and infant death. The Malawi plan, with the theme “Maternal Death is Preventable; No More Silence, Act Now,” sets out clear strategies to reduce pregnancy- and birth-related deaths, including access to contraception, skilled attendance at births, and timely and quality emergency obstetric and infant care.
In Malawi, sixteen women die every day giving birth or during pregnancy, making the southeastern African country among the worst for high rates of maternal death. As of 2004, the maternal mortality rate was 984 out of every 100,000 live births, compared to about 11 deaths out of every 100,000 births in the US. “Too many women are dying to give life, and that is unacceptable, particularly when we know how to prevent it,” said United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) representative Esperance Fundira.
With support from UNFPA, the World Health Organization, and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the new plan may also allow Malawi to reach the UN Millennium Development Goals — set targets established in 2000 for developing countries to reach by 2015 — two of which aim to reduce maternal and child deaths. Around the world, an estimated 529,000 women die every year in pregnancy or childbirth.