Supplies help women deliver and improve life
Four years ago, in the village of Asotwe, Ghana, Vivian Badu lost her sister to excessive bleeding after childbirth. Now responsible for the care of her own three children and her sister’s six children, Vivian will soon give birth to another child. For the sake of her family—and her community, which supports her every day—she hopes she will not suffer the same fate as her sister.
Becoming a mother is usually a joyous occasion. But for many women like Vivian and her sister, who live in developing countries, childbirth can be life-threatening.
One woman dies every two minutes from pregnancy-related complications around the world. Access to maternal health supplies, including medicines, contraceptives, and simple equipment used during childbirth, is too often a hidden part of the solution.
The leading causes of maternal deaths—excessive bleeding after childbirth and deadly seizures caused by high blood pressure during pregnancy—are preventable. Oxytocin and misoprostol, which prevent and treat excessive bleeding after childbirth, and magnesium sulfate, which prevents and treats deadly seizures during pregnancy, each costs less than US$1 per dose and can have an enormous impact. If oxytocin and misoprostol were available to all women giving birth throughout a ten-year period, an estimated 1.4 million lives could be saved.
Contraceptives also play a critical role in preventing maternal and newborn deaths. Yet more than 215 million women worldwide lack access. If women had wider access to modern contraceptives and family planning services, helping them to ensure healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, it is estimated that maternal deaths would decrease by one-third.
Although these medicines and supplies are inexpensive and produced around the globe, their impact is compromised by many barriers, including the poor and uncertain quality of medicines as well as their inappropriate use, supply chain management challenges, and unnecessarily restrictive policies.
This slideshow highlights the real stories of women—mothers, sisters, wives, daughters, and health workers—who experience the joys and sorrows of life with and without access to essential maternal health medicines and other supplies. PATH thanks our staff and our collaborators for sharing their stories and for working to improve the health of women and their families worldwide.
Supporting the health of women has a powerful ripple effect. To save a mother is to save a family. And to save a family is to lay the foundation for stronger communities.