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Maternal Deaths Drop By Nearly Half Worldwide Over 20 Years; Greater Progress Still Needed, U.N. Reports

“The number of women dying of pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications has almost halved in 20 years, according to new estimates released [on Wednesday] by the United Nations, which stressed that greater progress is still needed in significantly reducing maternal deaths,” the U.N. News Centre reports (5/16). “The report, ‘Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010,’ shows that from 1990 to 2010, the annual number of maternal deaths dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000 — a decline of 47 percent,” a UNFPA press release states (5/16). However, “[w]hile substantial progress has been achieved in almost all regions, many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will fail to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing maternal death by 75 percent through 2015,” Inter Press Service writes (Deen, 5/16). “Countries in Eastern Asia have made [the] most progress on improving the health of expectant and new mothers, said the report,” Agence France-Presse adds (5/16).

7 Ways For Programs Combating Hunger To Better Reach Women

“Through the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, women are being recognized as playing a major role in tackling global hunger,” guest blogger Seema Jalan, director of global development policy at Women Thrive Worldwide, writes in this post in USAID’s “IMPACTblog.” She lists “seven things we at Women Thrive believe any program — whether from government, an NGO or private company — have to do to succeed by reaching women,” including ensuring property rights for women and providing women farmers with the tools and training they need (5/18).

IPS Reports On Upcoming 5th International Parliamentarians' Conference On Population, Development

Inter Press Service reports on the Fifth International Parliamentarians’ Conference on the Implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) program of action, taking place May 24-25 in Istanbul, Turkey. According to the news service, about 300 parliamentarians from six continents will meet to “discuss ‘the progress the world’s governments are making in their efforts to protect and empower women in their reproductive health and rights: a promise they made at the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 in Cairo,’ says the European Parliamentary Forum (EPF), which is co-organizing the event.”

Focusing Attention On Population, Reproductive Health Issues

“As representatives of the World Health Organization Member States arrive in Geneva this week for the 65th World Health Assembly, I feel a cautious optimism about the future, and the future health of Africa,” Joy Phumaphi, co-chair of the Aspen Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health, writes in this post in the Huffington Post Blog. “With two female heads of state in Africa – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia and Joyce Banda in Malawi – women’s health and gender equality are no longer marginalized, they have become central to a nation’s potential for development and prosperity,” she continues, adding the two “share a vision and passionate resolve to improve the lives of women in Africa — and like me they are founding members of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leaders Council for Reproductive Health.”

Invest In Proven Ways To Curb Maternal Mortality, Morbidity

Christy Turlington Burns, maternal health advocate and founder of Every Mother Counts, notes in this GlobalPost “Global Pulse” opinion piece that “99 percent of women who die during or after childbirth live in the developing world,” and women and girls ages 19 and younger are at a higher risk of maternal mortality and morbidity. But “[w]e know what many of the solutions are,” she says, including “access to health care, inexpensive drugs that stop post-partum hemorrhaging, a scale-up of community health workers, and reproductive health so that pregnancies can be spaced,” as well as education.

Save The Children Releases Annual Motherhood Index, Ranking Niger ‘Worst Place To Be A Mother’

Save the Children’s 13th annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report, released Tuesday, “shows Niger as the worst place to be a mother in the world — replacing Afghanistan for the first time in two years,” and ranks Norway as the best place to be a mother, according to a Save the Children press release. “The ranking, which compares 165 countries around the globe, looks at factors such as mothers’ health, education and economic status, as well as critical child indicators such as health and nutrition,” the press release notes (5/8). “In addition to its annual ranking, the charity’s report emphasized the issue of children’s nutrition,” Global News Desk writes, adding that the report “noted that one in four of the world’s children are chronically malnourished or stunted — with little access to proper nutrients” (Diao, 5/8).

Former Model, Advocate Christy Turlington Burns Discusses ‘No Mother’s Day’ Advocacy Campaign

In his column, “The Common Good,” Forbes contributor Rahim Kanani interviews “former model, author and advocate for maternal and child health Christy Turlington Burns” regarding “the founding of her organization Every Mother Counts (EMC), lessons she’s learned around advocating for global change, her new campaign, titled ‘No Mother’s Day,’ advice to the class of 2012, and much more.” In the interview, Turlington Burns discusses the motivation behind EMC and her “advocacy and mobilization campaign to increase education and support for maternal mortality reduction globally”; highlights her 2010 documentary “No Woman, No Cry”; and encourages others to visit the campaign’s website to find ways to get involved.

KFF Issues New Brief On Statutory Requirements & Policies Governing U.S. Global Family Planning And Reproductive Health Efforts

The Kaiser Family Foundation on Thursday released a new issue brief that “provides a summary of the major policies and statutory requirements governing U.S. participation in international family planning and reproductive health efforts,” according to the website. “These laws and policies collectively direct how funds are spent, which organizations receive funds and generally shape U.S. family planning and reproductive health activities around the world,” the website adds (5/3).

Sierra Leone Has Made Progress In Improving Maternal, Child Health Care, But ‘Much More To Do’

“Just two years ago, our country had one of the worst maternal and infant death rates in the world,” Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma writes in a Huffington Post U.K. “Impact” blog post, adding, “We knew something had to be done.” So in September 2009, the government announced “that all health user fees would be removed for pregnant and lactating women and children under the age of five” and “introduced the Free Health Care Initiative [FHCI] in April 2010, which would give around 460,000 women and a million children a much better chance of having a longer and happier life,” Koroma writes. In one year, the FHCI facilitated a “214 percent increase in the number of children attending outpatient units” and a 61 percent reduction in “the number of women dying from pregnancy complications at facilities,” and “increased the number of health workers and ensured they were given big salary rises to reflect the importance of their positions,” he notes.