Maternal Health Crisis: Unlock the Editor’s Digest for Free to Learn How to Save Lives

London, United Kingdom – Despite commitments from the international community to reduce preventable deaths during pregnancy and childbirth, progress has stagnated, leaving vulnerable women and newborns at risk worldwide. The issue is particularly pronounced in sub-Saharan Africa, where mortality rates remain high.

Every two minutes, a woman dies somewhere in the world due to pregnancy or childbirth complications, while over 6,000 neonatal babies pass away within their first four weeks of life each day. These alarming statistics underscore the urgent need for improved access to life-saving medicines and healthcare systems worldwide.

While some progress has been made in reducing maternal and newborn deaths in certain countries, the majority of resource-poor nations have seen stagnant or worsening mortality rates. Despite the UN’s sustainable development goals aiming for no more than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030, the global ratio remains alarmingly high at 223 per 100,000 in 2020.

One particular concern is post-partum hemorrhage (PPH), a leading cause of maternal death that remains a significant challenge despite available prevention and treatment guidelines issued by the World Health Organization. Access to oxytocin, the primary treatment for severe bleeding, remains inadequate, contributing to the approximately 70,000 annual deaths caused by PPH globally.

To address these challenges, there is a crucial need for a greater prioritization of women’s health on the global healthcare agenda. Severe bleeding, high blood pressure, pregnancy-related infections, and other preventable or treatable conditions are significant contributors to maternal mortality rates globally. By providing simple, low-cost interventions such as antibiotics and drugs for labor complications, many lives could be saved around the world.

Pharmaceutical companies also play a vital role in ensuring affordable access to essential products for maternal and newborn health. However, the industry’s response thus far has been insufficient and disjointed. The need for more affordable and accessible medicines, as well as innovative solutions for treatment delivery, remains critical in combatting preventable maternal and newborn deaths.

Efforts to develop heat-stable versions of oxytocin and simpler methods of drug administration, in addition to ensuring a full range of appropriate antibiotics, are essential steps in improving maternal care and reducing mortality rates globally. Addressing outdated attitudes and integrating vital drugs like misoprostol into routine obstetric care are also key components in achieving better outcomes for women and babies worldwide.