Key findings reveal how millions of women’s lives can be saved

Key findings reveal how millions of women’s lives can be saved

A team of international maternal health researchers will today (Wednesday, February 21) reveal key findings which, if implemented, will help save millions of women from dying of pregnancy related causes in developing countries.

The research provides evidence that investment in skilled attendance at birth, removing financial barriers, and improving the functioning of the health facilities where midwives work – are all key to reducing maternal mortality.

The launch of their findings will be presented as part of a major three-day-conference taking place in London and being attended by leading health policymakers and researchers from around the world.

Their findings show that the link between poverty and maternal mortality is clear and require strategies to be reassessed to avoid women in developing countries dying from pregnancy related causes, and the consequently enormous negative economic and social outcomes for some of the world's poorest countries.

The findings have been based on four years of extensive research, involving a number of focus countries and a range of research disciplines and interventions. The research has been carried out in Ghana, Burkina Faso and Indonesia involving a wide range of research disciplines and professions.

Every minute a woman dies of causes related to pregnancy and birth, and the bleak message to delegates is clear: if the United Nation's Millennium Goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 is to be met, then immediate action is necessary.

This is one of the most rigorous and ambitious international research programmes that has ever been carried out to gather evidence in maternal mortality and to equip policy makers around the world with facts on how best to prioritise resources and move women's health to the top of the agenda.

The programme Immpact, is coordinated by the University of Aberdeen and headed by Professor Wendy Graham, its Principal Investigator. Immpact is based on strong partnerships with leading research institutions in and outside Europe. All research has been carried out in close cooperation with local research teams to reinforce and build on capacity and knowledge in local communities and countries. Professor Graham said: "Often discounted are the economic consequences of the less developed countries from this loss of human capital. To allow this to continue is simply unethical.

"Twenty years on from the global launch of safe motherhood, we are at a crucial point where policymakers need to reassess strategies and prioritise resources to save the lives of the millions of women who die of pregnancy related causes. The Immpact findings now provide the basis for action."

Professor Fred Sai, Advisor to the President of Ghana and former Senior Health Advisor to the World Bank, explains: "Just as the map of Africa is asking the world a question, so are Africa's women asking: "Why?" Why should our leaders leave us to die in our numbers and suffer such serious disabilities, while replenishing Africa's human resource base?"

The Immpact International Symposium is being attended by senior policymakers and leading researchers in women's health from all over the world, senior representatives from international agencies and the key note address is given by Gareth R. Thomas, MP, Under- Secretary of State in the Department for International Development, UK. The Opening Address is being given by Francisco F. Songane, former Minister of Health from Mozambique who is recognised both nationally and internationally for innovation and leadership, and is now Director of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, WHO, Geneva.

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