On Life, love and Politics

"Random musings about Life, love and Politics. Just my open diary on the events going on in the world as I see it."

Motherhood in Cameroon May 20, 2009

Dying Mothers in Cameroon

One of the issues that never gets adequate attention is maternal mortality in the developing world, and partly for that reason it’s one of the topics that Casey and I will be reporting on. It’s simply a scandal that the number of women dying in childbirth around the world has been stuck at half a million for 15 years now — when we know exactly how to get that number down.

At a hosptial in Yokadouma, Cameroon. (Naka Nathaniel/NYTimes.com)

A woman in the U.S. has about one chance in 2,500 of dying during a pregnancy or childbirth. In some parts of Africa, it’s one in six. Cameroon (where we are right now) is a particularly apt place to report on this, because the maternal mortality rate has actually gone up since 1998.

We dropped in on a couple of hospitals and clinics today while on the road, and talked to UNFPA experts. We’ll do more of that in the next couple of days, and maybe I’ll work out a column on it. Today we visited one clinic where a woman told of waiting for three days of unsuccessful labor in a local-level clinic before somebody took her to the hospital, where she had a C-section. That kind of delay is exactly what kills women.

Prudence is the main subject of my column on Sunday. She lost her baby and is in danger of losing her life.

Certainly you can’t think of a more basic human rights issue than 500,000 women dying unnecessarily in childbirth around the world — mostly because they don’t have influence and aren’t a priority. India should be apalled that an Indian woman has one chance in 48 of dying in childbirth, while in China a woman has less than one chance in 1500 of dying that way.

By the way, I can get on my high horse on this blog again, because my laptop is again behaving properly. Walt Baranger, the NY Times satellite guru, sent me a message urging me to reset the internet settings, and that has done the trick. So my laptop is back on the case!

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