More than 500 000 women die every year of maternal causes, 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Several initiatives have been made to combat this catastrophe, and 20 years after the first initiative, global maternal mortality is largely unchanged. In September 2000 the world leaders agreed to set measurable goals and targets for reducing by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio by the year 2015, and achieve universal access to reproductive health. They are called the Millennium Development Goals.
The methods we’ve used are literature review, and participant observation from our study trip to Malawi, one of the ten poorest countries in the world.
It is very dangerous to be pregnant and deliver in Africa; the lifetime risk for maternal mortality in Malawi is 1 in 7 compared to 1 in 7 300 in Norway. The pregnancies are too early, too late, too many and too close. Women suffer from direct (haemorrhage, infections, pre-eclampsia, obstructed labour) and indirect (HIV, malaria, malnutrition, non-communicable diseases) complications. When complications occur, they are not treated satisfactorily.
There are also political, economical, social and cultural factors that contributes to maternal morbidity and mortality in Africa. To make the achievement of the fifth MDG a reality, MMR will have to decrease much faster. The annual decline has so far been about 0.1%. Realizing the goal requires increased attention to improved healthcare for women.