Maternal and child health have been largely overlooked aspects of healthcare systems leading to major risks associated with pregnancy and childbirth. This could be attributed to lack of education and unavailability of adequate health-care facilities such as skilled personnel, infrastructure, medicines and emergency care when needed. As per the maternal mortality fact sheet published by World Health Organization (WHO) in 2015, approximately 830 women die every day from treatable complications related to pregnancy and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure, post-delivery complications and unsafe abortion are some of the most commonly occurring preventable or treatable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.
Poor antenatal and postnatal care results in neonatal deaths which reflect inequities in access to emergency obstetric care, post-partum care, newborn care and education to improve health, nutrition, and infant feeding, care and hygiene behaviours.
Maternal Health Advocacy
To address these issues, several maternal advances have taken place in the last 100 years resulting in an improved access to maternal care and child health. They are listed below
- The development of antibiotics in the early 20th century helped in the postpartum infection control thus protecting both the newborn and mother from deadly infections
- Nowadays there is a wide array of effective and safe options available for labour pain management such as Lamaze, hypnobirthing, reflexology, general anaesthesia for emergencies, epidurals etc.
- A number of diseases that were once fatal are now preventable. We owe it all to maternal and infant vaccinations
- Prevention of postpartum haemorrhage in the third stage of labour with practices such as administration of contractions inducer, picotin, early cord clamping and uterine massage gained importance and even being practiced today
- Detection of cervical cancer using pap smear and annual screenings resulted in a decline in the number of cases reported
- Laparoscopic techniques evolved as a simple surgical option for the treatment of infertility, removing cysts and performing hysterectomies
- The discovery of insulin and techniques to screen gestational diabetes made it an easily manageable pregnancy condition
- Infertility treatment options with higher success rates such as in-vitro fertilization, intrauterine insemination, embryo transfer, egg and embryo freezing technology etc. have become boon for expecting parents
- Ultrasound scans helped expectant mothers to keep a track of the babies’ growth and monitor their health in order to develop a birth plan that will suit both the mother and the baby
- Use of various forms of contraception for successful family planning
- Techniques for the routine screening of preeclampsia throughout the pregnancy and its prevention and treatment helped women have safe and healthy pregnancies and childbirth
- Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 was passed to see to it that no pregnant women is refrained from hiring by any employer
- Routine screening of mothers for postpartum depression as a part of both prenatal and postpartum care was made a norm to let doctors predict the onset and severity of the condition and treat them accordingly
- Screening of chromosomal abnormalities in foetus through non-invasive prenatal testing for early diagnosis of any disorders so that the affected foetus receive the medical attention at the earliest
These strategies lead to enormous decline in maternal mortality rate over the last few decades globally. In Eastern Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Asia, the maternal mortality has declined by about two-thirds.
Maternal Health Jobs
James Lind Institute (JLI) provides online courses related to maternal and child health management to train public health professionals in best practices, global standards and healthcare sustainability.
For more details please visit www.jliedu.com