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U.S. Ranks 39 in Global Child Birth Deaths, Behind Many Developing Countries

It has often been said that no woman should die while giving life. But, globally, 1,000 women die in labor every day.

In the United States alone, 16.7 childbirth deaths occur per 100,000 births. This figure is much higher than similar deaths recorded in other developed countries and it is not acceptable that the U.S. should have the maternal mortality rate nearly comparable to a third world country.

What’s more appalling is that half of those fatalities can be prevented.

This is according to last month’s report titled Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the U.S., released by Amnesty International. 

The report also revealed that the "near misses" from severe pregnancy-related complications that nearly cause death has been rising in the U.S., jumping by 25% since 1988.

This is not expected in a country which boasts huge leaps in advancement in the medical field. In 1990, the U.S. had 11.5 childbirth deaths per 100,000 births; today the U.S. is trotting behind other developed countries with a global ranking of 39th.

Experts have attributed the rising number of American women dying in childbirth to the C-section rates, which are said to be higher than what the World Health Organization says is safe.

The C-section is recommended in order to save life, but an increasing number of American women opt for it (even if they are perfectly health and are at no risk) in place of normal birth. A C-section is major surgery, no matter how common this procedures is, and like all serious operations it comes with risks such as pulmonary embolism, infection, hemorrhage and it can increase placental complications in future pregnancies.

This calls to mind the case of Zambian beauty queen Mofya Chisenga.  Fresh from her triumph as
a runner-up at the Miss Tourism Queen International contest which was held in China in 2008, Mofya could undoubtedly say things are going well for her.

Mofya used her high-profile status to help others, particularly children, while working with two projects – as matron of community support groups for people taking anti-retroviral drugs, and was helping
Community Schools. And in between all of this she held a full-time job as marketing executive at computer and communications company Microlink.

At 28, Mofya decided to be a mother, and on October 14 she was admitted at Lusaka’s University Teaching Hospital where she delivered a baby girl at 13 hours. Nine hours later, Mofya died.

Living in Zambia, where the latest Demographic Health Survey (DHS) shows that 390 women die in childbirth for every 100,000 births, Mofya’s death was sad yet was nothing new.

If she had lived, Mofya would now be a proud mother of a 6-month-old baby girl.

To cut down on cases such as Mofya’s, Zambia, like many developing countries, relies on funding from donors like the United States to implement interventions.

That is why it is worrying to see the U.S. failing to reduce the number of women dying in childbirth when it should lead in making childbirth very safe.

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