An interesting event is taking place this week. There is a summit of African First Ladies being held in L.A., an obvious geographic choice for such a meeting (although I am sure it help increase attendance). Sarah Brown, wife of Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister made a very passionate speech to the audience arguing that progress on health in Africa will only come when we put reducing maternal mortality at the top of the development agenda for Africa.
A few highlights from her speech:
..I have kept asking myself whether there is one goal that could unlock all these goals [the MDGs]? One goal that without action on which we cannot realize any of our objectives. One millennium target which if pursued aggressively could help us reach all our targets.
And I have become convinced a mother’s survival is the key, for it is the key to her baby’s welfare and often that baby’s life. A mother’s survival can help prevent her family being hit by malaria. A mother’s survival can ensure that all her children, including her girls, go to school. A mother’s survival can ensure that her children receive the right nutrition, ensure they receive their immunizations that will ensure their health during their first tender years.
I don’t believe that we will make the progress on HIV/AIDS without addressing maternal mortality. We will not make the progress we want on malaria without addressing maternal mortality. We will not make progress on getting more children to school without reducing maternal mortality. But we will make progress on all these things and on nutrition, on empowerment and education, on health care, on immunization, even — I believe — on the environment, if we make progress to reduce the number of mothers dying needlessly in childbirth.
When one mother survives, a lot survives with her.
Sarah is a spokesperson for the White Ribbon Alliance, a coallition aiming to increase awareness of maternal mortality. I spent a few minutes on their site this moring and was impressed with some of their fact sheets, like this one which provides a great summary of the Safe Motherhood strategy.
Sarah’s interest in this cause is no doubt influenced by her own history. In 2001, Sarah gave birth prematurely and eventually lost her baby proving that much work is still needed, even in developed countries, to address maternal and child health.Share on Facebook