I watched this episode of Wide Angle, The Birth of a Surgeon, Midwives in Mozambique, on my local PBS station earlier this week. If you get a chance to watch it, do so. It covers the topic of maternal death in Sub-Saharan Africa and the countries effort to change it. It is well worth your time to watch.(photo credit)
ABOUT THE ISSUE
Sub-Saharan Africa is the world’s deadliest place to give birth. Each year over a quarter of a million women die in childbirth in the region. But Mozambique is combating high maternal death rates by implementing unconventional programs.
After the country declared its independence from 400 years of Portuguese rule in 1975, a civil war raged for 16 years, killing a million people and wrecking the country’s infrastructure. By the time the war ended in 1992, the health care system was devastated and one in ten women were dying in childbirth. There were only 18 obstetricians for a population of 19 million. Since then, Mozambique has cut the maternal death rate in half.
As the figures now stand, the country is one of the few countries on track to achieve the fifth United Nations Millennium Development goal to reduce the maternal death rate by 75 percent by 2015. In 2004, Mozambique introduced a new health care initiative to train midwives in emergency obstetric care in an attempt to guarantee access to quality medical care during pregnancy and childbirth.