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This Mother’s Day, help us save mothers' lives

Nick Dalziel

08 May, 2019

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Motherhood should be an exciting time filled with joy and happiness.

But for many women in the Asia-Pacific region becoming a mother means a high risk of death.

Sadly, this Mother’s Day, as many mums around the world celebrate the birth of a baby, a staggering 830 women won’t survive childbirth. Globally, more than 300,000 women die each year from birth-related causes.

Burnet Institute Co-Program Director, Maternal and Child Health, Professor Caroline Homer AO, says nearly all of these deaths are preventable.

“Becoming a mother in Australia is a wonderful thing and usually filled with joy and happiness, but in other countries it’s not always the same. It’s scary,” Professor Homer said.

“Young women going into labour in these countries are frightened because they know their sisters have died, or their neighbours have died.”

Professor Homer says Australia’s closest neighbour is one of the world’s most dangerous places to go into labour.

“Of the countries in Asia-Pacific with the highest maternal mortality rates, Papua New Guinea – one hour north of Cairns – is number two,” she said.

“That kind of disparity and inequity is worth thinking about on Mother’s Day.”

Young mothers are scared

The stark reality of giving birth in Papua New Guinea

Maintaining progress in reducing maternal mortality

Burnet Institute Co-Program Director, Maternal and Child Health, Dr Elissa Kennedy, says that while maternal mortality rates have improved in the past 25 years, there is considerable work to be done in developing countries.

“Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate the amazing women in our lives, and celebrate the progress that has been made to improve maternal health globally,” Dr Kennedy said.

“However, complications of pregnancy and childbirth remain among the leading causes of death of adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries.

Dr Kennedy says her work focuses on improving health for the next generation of mothers.

“Complications of pregnancy and childbirth remain among the leading causes of death of adolescent girls in low- and middle-income countries, but it doesn’t have to be this way – most of these deaths are preventable,” she said.

Burnet’s work in maternal and child health

  • Improving the quality of maternal and newborn care in low- and middle-income countries
  • Educating and supporting midwives in the Asia-Pacific region
  • Understanding the drivers and impacts of early pregnancy in Asia-Pacific
  • Developing approaches that enable and empower girls to delay motherhood
  • Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies project to develop strategies for improving maternal and child health in Papua New Guinea.

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Contact Details

For more information in relation to this news article, please contact:

Professor Caroline Homer AO

Burnet Executive Team; Co-Program Director, Maternal and Child Health; Working Group Head

Email

Caroline.homer@burnet.edu.au

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