The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) has joined forces with United Nations’ agencies and other partners to launch a campaign aimed at reducing maternal mortality in Latin America and the Caribbean. The campaign, called “Zero Maternal Deaths. Preventing the Preventable”, seeks to address the fact that maternal mortality in the region has increased by 15% between 2016 and 2020, with approximately 8,400 women dying each year due to complications in pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.
Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO Director, highlighted that most of these deaths are preventable through quality care, access to contraception, and reducing inequities in access to care. “It is time to urgently invest in maternal health and change this unacceptable reality,” he said at the campaign launch on International Women’s Day.
The campaign aims to accelerate progress towards the regional goal of less than 30 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births outlined in PAHO’s Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas. Last year, the maternal mortality ratio in Latin America and the Caribbean was 68 per 100,000 live births.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a 20-year setback in maternal health in the region, with a 15% increase in maternal mortality between 2016 and 2020, following a 16.4% reduction between 1990 and 2015.
To achieve the goal of reducing maternal mortality, the campaign emphasizes the need to address socioeconomic, gender, ethnicity, education, and geographical inequities. Accessible maternal health services, as well as professionals who are available, trained, equipped, and respectful of the rights and particularities of expectant mothers, are also key.
Zero Maternal Deaths. Preventing the Preventable is an initiative of the Regional Task Force for the Reduction of Maternal Mortality (GTR). The campaign will focus on the dissemination of social media messages and country-specific actions throughout May. It also includes a call for action to all of society to protect women and newborns.
The campaign launch ended with the signing of a joint declaration to reduce maternal mortality. The GTR members include PAHO/WHO, UNFPA, UNICEF, USAID, IDB, WB, ICM, the Latin American Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology Societies, Fòs Feminista, MSH, and MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership.