Demystifying Maternal Mortality Rates

Every two minutes a mother dies during child birth. But where exactly are they dying? And why are they dying? Unless we have a deep understanding of where and why mothers are dying, we will not be able to develop meaningful solutions to avert this constant tragedy. We often hear statistics such as 99% of deaths are in low or middle income countries, 30% of deaths are due to post-partum haemorrhage, and most of the post-partum haemorrhages deaths are due to an uncontracted uterus. Whilst such statistics are a useful starting point, they are not sufficiently granular, not sufficiently detailed for a policy maker to develop, implement and evaluate a solution or for a researcher to make a serious effort to study the challenge.

Policy makers and researches will need to know where exactly these women are dying – which countries, what regions within each countries, are they dying at home or in hospitals, or indeed during transport, and if they are dying in hospitals, in what type of hospitals? community facilities, referral hospitals or regional hospital? Unless we have intelligence on where mothers are dying, we cannot possibly target our efforts. And we need to know why they are dying. Not simply in terms of a cause such as post-partum haemorrhage or sepsis, but in much more detail – for example, was there a problem with sub-standard care, was there a shortage of staff, adequately trained staff, drugs, equipment or blood? And so on. When we start to ask these questions, these searching questions, we find there are lots of answers out there already. The answers are often hidden in detailed confidential enquiry reports, or some health program evaluation or in some research study. Sometimes the lessons are there in the stories that frontline healthcare workers share with us. The where and why project has a singular aim – our aim is to bring forward the hidden information and insights, organise it and make it available to all those who are trying to stop mothers dying while giving life. Join us on this journey. Please contact us if you have information or insight to share. Thank you.