Preventing Maternal Deaths
Although conditions have improved in recent years in much of the world, many women in developing countries still die in childbirth or of pregnancy-related causes. Yet, in places that lack strong vital registration systems, a large proportion of these deaths may go unrecorded—and thus officials do not really know the extent of the maternal mortality problem and often don’t have good information on which to base programs to reduce maternal mortality. To bring about improvements to maternity care and to save lives, policy makers need solid evidence of the scope and locations of the problem. The Division of Reproductive Health has been working with the Saving Mothers, Giving Life initiative to document the levels of maternal and neonatal mortality in the study districts before the activity began and as the initiative progresses.
An effective maternal mortality surveillance system tells decision makers and officials how many women are dying of pregnancy-related causes, what specifically those causes are, and where these deaths are occurring. This information can not only provide the foundation for planning effective maternal health services, but also can help track the improvements in mortality that these services bring about over time. In Colombia, CDC’s DRH worked with the Ministry of Social Protection and with the Pan American Health Organization to speed up and increase the accuracy of the reporting and analysis of maternal mortality data through the use of the innovative Web-based Maternal Mortality Epidemiological Surveillance System.