Aberdeen takes to world stage in tackling maternal and newborn deaths

Scientists from Aberdeen will next week join global figures at a key conference which will track the progress of work to reduce the numbers of women and babies dying during pregnancy and childbirth in the developing world.

Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations; Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland; Christy Turlington Burns, model and CARE Advocate for Maternal Health; Annie Lennox, singer, activist, and campaigner and Melinda Gates, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation are some of the high profile speakers at the Women Deliverconference in Washington DC.

Part of the conference will focus on what is being done towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 which have set targets for reducing child and maternal mortality in developing countries by 2015.

Such work is documented in the Countdown to 2015 report which was issued in the US yesterday (June 3). This will be discussed at the conference and will highlight the progress of effort underway in 68 countries where more than 95% of all maternal and child deaths occur.

Professor Wendy Graham and Dr Julia Hussein from the University of Aberdeen’s Immpact* - a global research initiative, the aim of which is to promote better health for mothers and babies in developing countries - have contributed to the Countdown report.

Professor Graham - Principal Investigator of Immpact, whose objectives are closely linked with the MillenniumDevelopment Goals 4 and 5 – is also speaking at the conference.

She said: “It is a great privilege to be invited to present at this prestigious event. This is an important opportunity to highlight the huge gaps in access to care which can be masked by using national averages.

“In some countries, for example, women are 10 times more likely to deliver with a health professional if they live in towns and cities than in rural areas. This helps to explain why deaths among mothers and babies remain so high amongst rural populations.”

Ipact– the evaluation and training service arm of Immpact – are also exhibiting at the conference.