A Spotlight on Maternal Health

Women’s health policy in the U.S. is one that strips the population of their autonomy. In recent years, a woman’s right to control her body has been widely debated, especially when it came to reproductive health decisions, as seen in the controversial matter of abortion. Bringing to light the gender inequity in healthcare, the abortion dispute has paved the way for advancement in the U.S., specifically highlighting the issues surrounding maternal mortality—a welcoming change from ignorance towards women’s health.


Maternal mortality—deaths to women while pregnant, during childbirth, within 42 days of delivery, or after pregnancy—has been a national and global issue for years [1]. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 810 women died of preventable causes globally every day in 2017 [2]. This unequal rate of maternal mortality can be attributed to a plethora of factors, namely including access to medical facilities and health insurance, racial inequality, and socioeconomic disparity. As a concern that can be largely prevented with a higher level of care and improvements in the treatment of women in healthcare, the U.S. can pass legislative laws and make simple changes in maternal care to reduce the mortality rate [3]. However, as one of the countries that struggle with this issue, the U.S. has not implemented any reform that would be successful in ameliorating maternal mortality. The negligence towards the growing issue of maternal mortality is an unacceptable byproduct of gender inequality in the U.S.


Yet, recent studies have shown a step in the positive direction towards combating the issue of maternal mortality in the U.S.. One study in partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services is analyzing and determining risk factors in maternal health, such as economic status, race, and ethnicity [4]. Implementing non-medical changes that will effectively work towards combating maternal health issues is crucial for the world to accomplish. Although it is difficult to determine the relative effects of proposed changes on the maternal mortality rate, the U.S. can still cater towards the needs of women by increasing the access of medical centers, reproductive education, health insurance, mental health resources, and prenatal care to women who are or are planning to be pregnant. This can be done through free clinics specifically developed for maternal care being implemented in rural areas.


The U.S. has failed to invest in maternal health and the U.S. has suffered as a consequence. In 2018, there were 17.4 deaths per 100,000 live births [5]. Beyond the tragic nature of maternal death, the topic of maternal mortality can extend to children as well. In fact, children of mothers who have died because of pregnancy face at least a 3 times greater chance of death than children whose mothers are alive [6]. Therefore, the importance of improving maternal health is evident. The upward trend of maternal health is a good sign, but there is much work ahead that requires major changes in the way healthcare functions in the U.S.


References:

  1. The DHS program. The DHS Program - Research Topics - Maternal Mortality. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://dhsprogram.com/topics/Maternal-Mortality.cfm.

  2. World Health Organization. (n.d.). Maternal mortality. World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/maternal-mortality.

  3. Maternal mortality rates and statistics. UNICEF DATA. (2021, September 20). Retrieved from https://data.unicef.org/topic/maternal-health/maternal-mortality/.

  4. Premier inc.. contracts with HHS on data-driven initiative to improve... Premier. (2021, November 13). Retrieved from https://www.premierinc.com/newsroom/press-releases/premier-inc-contracts-with-hhs-on-data-driven-initiative-to-improve-u-s-maternal-health.

  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, June 9). NVSS - maternal mortality - homepage. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/maternal-mortality/index.htm.


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