The maternal health landscape is rapidly evolving, mostly for good. Evidence shows substantial decline in maternal mortality and growing utilization of maternal health services. But in some countries, the challenge of limited progress or even a reversal of progress casts a shadow.
In low resource countries, 1 in 3 women currently have an unintended and completely avoidable pregnancy within 2 years of a birth. As Melinda Gates said “The single most effective intervention to improve maternal and newborn health is birth spacing and family planning.”
In the year that we ushered in a new development era of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Global Strategy for Women’s, Children’s, and Adolescents’ Health, there were 2.7 million newborn deaths, 2.6 million babies stillborn and 303,000 maternal deaths.
The release of the first Lancet Series on breastfeeding tells us not only that breastfeeding could save the lives of 820,000 babies and 20,000 women, but could also cut health costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and inject even more into economies via human capital improvements.
The sheer scale of the drought means more resources—food and money—must be mobilized now, both from those who have already given and especially from those who have not. There’s no time for delay.