Unfulfilled 3rd Millennium Development Goals (6)
Today, we study the 5th goal of the UN Third Millennium Development Plan, which calls for improvement of mothers’ health.
Women roughly account for 50% of human resources. They play important roles as mothers and wives in maintenance and survival of families. Moreover, given that they maintain an important and significant status in social, economic, cultural, and educational development; efforts for improvement of women’s health has always been a top priority in different countries’ health plans. For this reason, improvement of the health of women, especially mothers, has taken center stage among the Third Millennium Development goals. Otherwise, none of the development goals would be accessible. Hence, heads of state round the world pledged to reduce the pregnant women’s rate of mortality by 75% at the end of the year 2015, in comparison to 1990 AD.
However, despite the international efforts for reduction of rate of mortality of pregnant women at the time of delivery, this rate is yet to be reduced in many countries across the globe.
The UN Chief, Ban Ki Moon, in the introduction of his annual report in the year 2014, noted that although the Third Millennium Development goals have assisted more than a billion people to come out of absolute poverty and hunger, and have led to significant reduction of mortality rate among children, still a large number of pregnant women lose their lives due to problems occurring at the time of delivery or as the result of side effects occurring after delivery of their infants.
A new report published in a highly-circulated international medical journal confirms this fact. According to this journal, currently, 38% of health sector facilities in 54 developing countries remain in poor conditions, which coupled with shortage of hygienic water sources, have exposed these regions’ mothers to dangers. This report has been authored by a research team gathered by the World Health Organization, London Medical School, and UNICEF, which declares the death of around 289,000 women at home or health centers due to poor sanitary conditions. This report adds that this rate is 14-folds higher in poor countries, compared to developed regions. According to London Medical School, women who live in poor sanitary conditions are further susceptible to dangerous infectious diseases. This threat mounts upon lack of access to healthy water and hygienic conditions. These problems lead to many ailments in developing countries; the majority of which are not identified, exposing mothers and children to many dangers. For instance, there are poor sanitary conditions in Tanzania and only one third of birth deliveries take place under healthy conditions in this country. Also, nearly 8000 women die in this East African country at the time of birth delivery, every year. The rate of mortality among pregnant women significantly declines in industrial countries, compared to developing countries. For instance, in Canada, one in every 11,000 women dies at the time of delivery, or due to the related subsequent side effects.
Usually poor, rural mothers; and those who live in war-stricken regions are more exposed to threats. In Sub-Saharan Africa, AIDS also claims lives of mothers at an alarming rate.
Infections, abortions, and blood pressure disorders throughout pregnancy and birth delivery are the widespread causes of mortality among mothers, especially in Africa and Asia. Women’s general health, including their dietary regimes and their level of exposure to HIV virus are some of the factors which impact pregnancy and delivery. Moreover, other social factors such as poverty, and inequity, in addition to the general viewpoint toward women and their health impact the rate of mortality among mothers.
Meanwhile, according to pundits, the best avenue for prevention of mothers’ mortality is to enhance the quality and quantity of health care during pregnancy, to precisely control blood pressure, to control fetus heartbeat, and to educate mothers and families. Presence of a skilled obstetrician, improvement of healthcare for women, and post-delivery healthcare are some of the necessary measures that contribute to prevention of mortality among mothers. This is while the lack of access of mothers to health services has threatened their health in a number of regions around the world. Poor and rural mothers are more vulnerable to such threats.
One of the root causes of failure to fulfill the 5th goal of the Third Millennium Development Plan has been the refusal of some wealthy countries to materialize their pledges. Among the G8 member states, England has assisted this millennium development goal more than others, with Italy assisting this cause the least. The G8 member states have also not fulfilled their pledge to double their assistance to African countries. Wealthy states are more interested in their own projects and are not inclined as such to assist plans for improvement of conditions in poor countries.
On the other hand, developing countries also do not pay attention to the recommendations and plans of the UN for improvement of their conditions and alleviation of poverty and hunger. Meanwhile, the number of countries that do not follow the UN plans on sufficient allocation of part of their Gross Domestic Product to health services is mounting. The majority of these countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The 5th goal of the Third Millennium Development Plan is only accessible if women’s rights take center stage in global equations.