In Kenya, the 12thof May 2019 marks Mother’s Day. This is a day to shine light on motherhood and appreciate the mothers around us. Mothers are the source of life, and for many of us they also function as our personal advisors, our source of wisdom and the cure for all things evil. Their arms are as safe as any wall, their food the best in the world and there is no voice softer than your mother’s. But have you ever thought about the risk your mother went through to put you on this earth?
We say every new life is a miracle: a baby can grow inside the womb for 9 months and come out a perfect little human being, ready to grow and learn. But this miracle can be deadly. Globally, 216 out of 100 000 women died during childbirth or from causes related to pregnancy in 2015. This translates to about 830 women per day, meaning one woman every 2 minutes. In Kenya, the number was more than doubled with 510 out of 100 000 women. Africa is the continent with the highest maternal mortality ratio in the world, with 57% of all maternal deaths happening here.
For others, motherhood is short and with a brutal end. Many expecting mothers go through the unimaginable and lose their child. In 2015, there was an estimated 2.6 million stillbirths. In addition, 2.7 million babies died within 28 days of birth. Most of these deaths could have been prevented, but the inequalities when it comes to health care during pregnancy and childbirth are, unfortunately, enormous. At the present pace, it will be another 160 years until an African woman has the same chance of fulfilling her pregnancy as a woman in a high-income country.
So to make it safe being a mother, we need to ensure that all women who want to be, or already are mothers, have access to their sexual and reproductive rights and to sexual and reproductive health care. How do we make sure that this will be reality? Governments are working towards achieveing the sustainable development goals (link to this https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/) to improve the current situation, together with other sectors and stakeholders, from local to international level.
“By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1000 live births.”
“By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.”
Making motherhood safer will not only improve the situation for women, but also for their families. This results in less women dying during childbirth, more women getting skilled birth attendants, and due to family planning more women can plan their motherhood: how many children they want, and when they want them. Women are also having children later, meaning their youth can be spent on investing in their adulthood through education, economic empowerment and creating a more stable framework for their lives. You can make a difference in your local community and join forces with others who work for a safer world for mothers, children and mothers to be.
Use the opportunity this day gives us to appreciate the mothers around you and let them know why they are special. Happy Mother’s Day!