Country: South Africa
Delegate Name: Shriya Reddy
United Nations Women
Improving Maternal Health
The Republic of South Africa
Forest Hills Eastern
Maternal injury and mortality rates are increasing every day and are left unaddressed. Globally, 3 billion newborns die each year and there are 2.6 million stillbirths, with Africa accounting for half of both numbers. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the main causes of maternal deaths are severe bleeding after birth, post-child birth infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, unsafe abortion, and diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.
In the Republic of South Africa, for every 1,000 live births, about five women die during pregnancy or within 2 months after childbirth. Although South Africa has had significant progress in improving maternal health, most maternal deaths are preventable. Many lives of women can be saved through maternal health care services. Skilled care before, during, and after childbirth can save not only the lives of women but the lives of their newborn babies. WHOreports that in high-income countries, virtually all women have at least four antenatal care visits, are attended by a skilled health worker during childbirth and receive postpartum care. WHOreports that the maternal mortality ratio in developing countries is 230 women per 100,000 births versus 16 women per 100,000 in developed countries. Poverty fuels maternal mortality, experts say, which is why death rates are higher in poor countries than in rich ones.
The Republic of South Africa urges developed nations to work together with developing countries to raise awareness and money. Developing countries need workers to take care of mothers throughout childbirth. Reducing maternal mortality requires a comprehensive approach to women’s reproductive health, starting with family planning and access to contraception. Another key factor in reducing maternal mortality is to provide skilled attendants at delivery and access to hospital treatments. All countries should develop or expand existing programs and initiatives designed to raise awareness about maternal health. Countries should also empower women. The lower status of women and girls often translates into less education, which means they often do not know where to access maternal healthcare or seek remedies when they are denied care or their rights are otherwise violated. It is also essential that men are educated about women’s fundamental human rights, including their rights to access health services. Since there is more power in some countries, they can help mothers in need and can potentially save the lives of many.