Progress on maternal mortality stagnates in some European countries

To detect gestational diabetes, which can appear for the first time during pregnancy, a blood glucose test is performed.

New data published by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other United Nations agencies warn of stagnating maternal mortality rates in some European countries between 2016 and 2020, despite progress made in the last 20 years.

the new report Trends in maternal mortality from 2000 to 2020 uses available national data on maternal mortality for this period. The document has revealed that progress in some countries slowed or stopped between 2016 and 2020.

The WHO regional office for Europe warns that around a thousand women died in that continent in 2020 due to complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. “Each and every one of these deaths represents a heartbreaking loss of a woman or girl, and of all the opportunities they might have had in the future. Maternal mortality is a devastating reality that can be prevented if women receive timely care and during pregnancy and childbirth,” said agency director Hans Henri P. Kluge.

“We know that social determinants such as income, access to education, race and ethnicity put some groups at greater risk. Investments in the health system, for example, in adequate infrastructure and equipment, staffing and training of the healthcare workers, can improve outcomes. It is clear that to address this unfinished agenda we need action from all sectors of society,” he added.

Determinants of maternal mortality

The leading causes of maternal mortality are severe bleeding, pre-eclampsia or eclampsia, pre-existing conditions that may worsen during pregnancy (including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases such as rheumatic heart disease and other noncommunicable diseases), pregnancy-related infections, and complications from abortion. insecure.

“The maternal mortality rates observed in some countries in the region are not necessarily related to the COVID-19 pandemic,” explained the technical officer for Sexual and Reproductive Health at the WHO regional office, Oleg Kuzmenko. However, he noted that more data is needed to fully understand the impact of the pandemic on maternal mortality.

“Although a robust assessment of the impact of the pandemic on maternal mortality is not possible with the data currently available, it is crucial to ensure that pregnant women and those planning a pregnancy have access to COVID-19 vaccines, as well as a high-quality prenatal care that can help mitigate risks,” Kuzmenko said. The WHO affirmed that greater recognition and collective action is needed to address the systemic problems that impede access to safe, quality, respectful and affordable sexual and reproductive health care.

In addition, the provision of quality health care by well-trained health personnel before, during and after pregnancy and childbirth, and the promotion of reproductive health decision-making by women and girls, they are critical to empowering them and saving lives.

WHO/PAHO/Sebastián Oliel

To detect gestational diabetes, which can appear for the first time during pregnancy, a blood glucose test is performed.

Maternal health, absolute priority

For the health agency, improving maternal health is a priority since health for all cannot be achieved until all patients, including mothers and newborns, receive the best and safest quality care.

WHO reiterated that special attention should be paid to eliminating inequalities in access and quality of maternal care, and to ensuring universal health coverage.

The UN agency continues to work in the region to reduce maternal mortality through research, evidence-based guidance, global standards and technical support to countries to develop and implement effective policies and programmes.

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