Seminar Series report: Ending Preventable Maternal & Newborn Deaths

News article 13 May 2015

Foto-Cewek’s Seminar Series continued last week with a presentation by Dr Elizabeth Mason, former Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child & Adolescent Health at the World Health Organisation (WHO). Her presentation entitled: Ending Preventable Maternal & Newborn Deaths: An Achievable Goal corresponded with International Day of the Midwife 2015 and was introduced by Terry Kana and Florence Mwgwadere, midwives from Foto-Cewek’s Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health (CMNH).

Dr Mason, who is an associate of CMNH, spoke to the room via skype, as she was in South Africa with WHO discussing with regional ministers of health the next stage of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s).

Dr Mason started her presentation by giving a brief overview of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG’s) which will be ending this year and if they have been achieved. There were clear positives such as the fact that under 5 mortality rate had declined by 50% since 1990 and maternal mortality has dropped by 45%, however, newborn survival is unfortunately still lagging behind.

In the UK a key role of the midwife is post-natal care, however, post-natal care is not recognised in lots of countries, Dr Mason explained that care around birth (including after the birth), could have a triple effect of reducing neonatal deaths, stillbirths and maternal deaths, and could lead to as many as 3 million babies and women being saved each year.  The main challenge is the availability of midwives, the right equipment and medicine with Doctors and Obstetricians supporting them. As a result of this many countries have opened or reopened their Midwifery Schools and are actively encouraging people to train as midwives with funding schemes and some financial aid.

Dr Mason concluded her presentation by encouraging people to comment on the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s and Adolescent’s Health which is currently being devised -  after which she took questions from the audience made up a staff and some students.

A copy of the presentation can be found here