Every year, about half a million women worldwide die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth -- mainly severe bleeding, infections, unsafe abortions, hypertension, and obstructed labour. More than 90% of these deaths occur in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. And most of them could be prevented at low cost.
In addition, over 50 million women suffer from acute pregnancy-related conditions -- over a third of them with long-term, painful, and often distressing conditions that will affect them for the rest of their lives. They include permanent incontinence, chronic pain, nerve and muscle damage, and infertility.
Meanwhile, perinatal conditions are the major cause of death among children under five -- accounting for more than one in five deaths. Of these, over 3 million die during the first week of life. Most deaths are the result of poor maternal health and nutrition, inadequate care during pregnancy and delivery, lack of essential care for the newborn baby, infections, birth injury, asphyxia, and problems relating to premature births.
Integrated Management of Pregnancy and Childbirth (IMPAC)
This low-cost strategy, based on WHO's Mother-Baby Package, which costs no more than US$ 3 a year per capita in low-income countries, is designed to prevent maternal and infant deaths and the often lifelong disability due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth.
The strategy involves ensuring access to:
- antenatal care
- normal delivery care assisted by a skilled birth attendant
- treatment for complications of pregnancy (including haemorrhage, obstructed labour, eclampsia, sepsis, abortion complications)
- neonatal care
- family planning advice
- management of sexually transmitted infections.