Improving Maternal Health a Priority for The United States


Recognizing that improving women’s health creates dividends for entire societies, the United States of America today underscored that improving maternal health is one of its priority for the United States.

On her remarks for “A World in Transition: Charting a New Path in Global Health” in Norway, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said when China, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia upgraded and expanded their health systems, their maternal mortality rates dropped dramatically.

She cites that when Zimbabwe’s system began to crumble, its maternal mortality rates shot up dramatically.

Maternal health clinic in Afghanistan (source: Merlin).

“That is a powerful, inescapable correlation. How do we achieve health systems that will help every country improve life for more of their people?” -Ms. Clinton

To improve the maternal health of women around the world, the development agency USAID is supporting more skilled midwives and cell phone technology to spread health information.

The US government is involved in the International Alliance for Reproductive, Maternal, and Newborn Health, a five-year effort to improve donor coordination.

United States ispartnering with Norway and others to support innovative interventions that improve outcomes for pregnant women and newborns, she added.

Currently, the US government is working to ensure access to family planning so that women can choose the spacing and size of their families.”

“Reproductive health services can and do save women’s lives, strengthen their overall health, and improve families’ and communities’ well-being.” -Ms. Clinton

She stresses that women’s health means more than just maternal health and therefore the states must look to improve women’s health more generally, because it is an unfortunate reality that women often face great health disparities.

She adds mproving women’s health has dividends for entire societies, from driving down child mortality rates to sparking economic growth.

The United States is integrating services throughout our health programs so women and their families have access to the range of care they need.

The US is linking its health programs to others that address the legal, social and cultural barriers that inhibit women’s access to care, such as gender-based violence, lack of education, and the low social status of women and girls.

“And I think it’s important to stress the connection between maternal mortality, strong health systems, and country ownership.” -Ms. Clinton

She notes that country ownership in health is the end state where a nation’s efforts are led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, communities, civil society and private sector.

To get there, Ms. Clinton says a country’s political leaders must set priorities and develop national plans to accomplish them in concert with their citizens, which means including women as well as men in the planning process.

She emphasizes that these plans must be effectively carried out primarily by the country’s own institutions, and then these groups must be able to hold each other accountable as the women did in front of the parliament in Sierra Leone.

“So while nations must ultimately be able to fund more of their own needs, country ownership is about far more than funding. It is principally about building capacity to set priorities, manage resources, develop plans, and carry them out.” -Ms. Clinton

She stresses that moving to full country ownership will take considerable time, patience, investment, and persistence. However, she highlighted there are grounds for optimism.

The US government is also trying to help put in place the essential pieces of strong health systems.

That means, the US government is helping to build clinics and labs, to train staff, improve supply chains, make blood supplies safer, set up record-keeping systems; in short, creating platforms upon which partners can eventually launch their own efforts, she noted.

Ms. Clinton highlighted that Norway has long understood that the stability of any nation is tied up in the well-being of its people.

She says every life saved is a step toward that more peaceful, prosperous planet we seek.

However, surviving childbirth and growing up healthy should not be a matter of luck or where one live or how much money you have.

“It should be a fact for every woman everywhere.” -Ms. Clinton

She notes that countries can make this happen, and by doing so, bring the world closer to recognizing that working together not only can save lives, but can help improve them, bring greater peace, prosperity to all.

With its commitment to empower women and girls around the world, the United States of America has underlined that USAID-led Global Health Initiative is investing in efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality globally.

US government is prioritizing in the realm of women’s health and its contribution to civilian security: maternal health, sexual and reproductive health, and gender based violence.

The GHI aims to equalize gender imbalances related to health, to promote the empowerment of women and girls, and to improve overall health outcomes for women, their families, and their communities.

The GHI is investing in efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality, secure access to family planning and prevent the spread of HIV, among other goals – all of which aim to address and respond to the unique health needs of women and girls, Ms. Otero added.

GHI goal is for women and children to have access to an integrated package of essential health services – from sexual and reproductive health care and HIV/AIDS services, to skilled attendants at childbirth, to immunization services and basic nutrition.

The initiative seeks to increase the participation of women and girls in health care decision-making, especially as it pertains to reproductive health and family planning, Ms. Otero noted

She reports that more than two billion women are under the age of 24 and entering their childbearing years.

However, 215 million women around the world who want to prevent pregnancy lack access to contraception and family planning.

In addition, nearly half the women in the developing world deliver babies without a nurse, a midwife, or a doctor.

In addition, more than 350,000 women die each year due to complications related to pregnancy and child birth – the majority of those deaths are preventable.

Ninety-nine percent of these deaths occur among the poorest populations of the developing world.

Despite the daunting numbers challenges, the GHI has made gains and are seeing hope for progress.

The President and Secretary Clinton have elevated the role and rights of women to unprecedented heights in US foreign policy and programming from diplomacy to development to defense.

The United States believes that a society which lifts up women is more likely to have strong economic growth and a stable political system.

And in places where women’s rights are denied, poverty and political oppression often precede and follow, Ms. Otero noted.

The U.S. government continues to lay the groundwork for efforts under the U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI), announcing the first round of “GHI Plus” countries, as well as the program’s governance structure.

GHI is a six-year, $63 billion initiative to help partner countries improve measurable health outcomes by strengthening health systems and building upon proven results.

GHI activities are being implemented in the more than 80 countries where U.S. government global health dollars are already at work.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.