Population Matters

Remembering Mothers on this Mother’s Day

May 8th, 2010

On this Mother’s Day millions of flowers and cards will be sent and phone calls made by children telling their mothers’ how special they are, and what a difference they have made in their life. It is the one day a year devoted to taking time out of our lives to thank our mothers for the role they played in nurturing us.

In the U.S., most of us take for granted that our mother was there for us, however in developing countries that is not a given. Every birth brings with it risks, and many children lose their mother.

As Dr. Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), pointed out in his recent blog on the Huffington Post :

“More than half a million women lose their lives in childbirth, and many more suffer complications each year. The one-in-16 chance over a lifetime that a woman in sub-Saharan Africa has of dying as a result of pregnancy is more than 150 times greater than the one-in-2,500 risk of a woman in the United States.

…But with so many women in danger merely because they are mothers-to-be, it’s clear there is a lot more to be done. USAID has contributed to significant reductions in maternal mortality and, with continued support for family planning and maternity services, more than a million women could be saved in the years ahead.”

This high maternal mortality rate is unacceptable. The good news is that it can be lowered, a recent study released by the Lancet suggests that progress is being made in several countries, and a larger study due to be released later this year may give us a clearer view of how we are doing on reducing maternal mortality. The bottom line is that we know how to lower maternal mortality in developing countries. We know what works.

By investing in family planning internationally we can prevent unintended pregnancies, abortion, and save children and mothers. For every $100 million invested in family planning 2.1 million unintended pregnancies are prevented, 825,000 abortions are prevented, 70,000 infant deaths are prevented, and 4,000 mother lives are saved.  Investing in family planning saves lives.

That is why on this Mother’s Day I will not only take time to thank my mother for raising me to be the woman I am today, but I will also think of the woman who dies every minute due to maternal mortality. I will remember that we know what needs to be done to prevent these deaths, and I will add my voice to those demanding that the U.S. take a stand in preventing these deaths by increasing its funding for family planning and reproductive health services.  If we do that, more mothers will be able to celebrate next Mother’s Day with their children.

Posted by Jennie Wetter, Program Manager

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