Another SDG report, another look at the data which is stalled or losing ground. We're halfway to 2030, when the globe is set to meet the Sustainable Development Goals, and we are not making progress. As Melinda French Gates eloquently writes in the forward to the Goalkeepers report 2023:
When a mother dies during childbirth, the future dies with her.
The world doesn’t just lose everything she is and will be. We also—all too often—lose her child. The chance of a baby reaching their first birthday drops to less than 37 percent when their mother dies during childbirth.
This happens 800 times a day. Once every two minutes, a mother dies from complications due to childbirth.
See the Goalkeepers report here: https://www.gatesfoundation.org/goalkeepers/report/2023-report
Every year, approximately 5 million children die before they reach their fifth birthday. Nearly another 2 million babies never take their first breath—they’re stillborn. Although these deaths have continued to decline since the mid-2010s, they’re not declining fast enough, especially for infants. Most child deaths—74 percent—happen during a baby’s first year. Meanwhile, for new mothers, progress has hit a brick wall. Globally, maternal mortality rates have remained stubbornly static over the past eight years, and in some countries, from the United States to Venezuela, they have risen.
That's the bad news, but there are solutions out there, we just need to get them into the hands of the people who need them most. Poor, rural, indigenous, POC women in all corners of the globe.
We need policy changes, political will, more investment into women’s health, and health care workers—including midwives. We need to listen to what women want and ensure that women have a say in their own health care. And ultimately, we need to commit together that we no longer accept preventable deaths of mothers and babies around the world.
The world has come so far so quickly in our understanding of how to save the most fragile lives. Together, we can translate that knowledge into tangible progress.
To paraphrase the late Dr. Paul Farmer, “The biggest failure we have in providing health care to mothers and children is a failure of imagination… If we can send a rover to Mars, we can imagine a world where mothers and babies can live long and healthy lives.”
Next blog we explore the seven interventions we know save mothers and infants and can get us back on track to save 2 million lives every year.