Forum to discuss maternal health

April 14, 2010

Jane Zehnder-Merrell

Despite recent reports of improvement in maternal deaths, Michigan has the eighth worst outcomes for maternal health among the 50 states in the nation, according to a report recently released by Amnesty International.

Furthermore African-American women are nearly four times more likely to die of complications from childbirth as white women.

This weekend Detroit will host an event focused on strategies to address this crisis.

The country as a whole also compares poorly to other nations on maternal health outcomes: the USA ranks 41st among other countries.

Women in the USA are five times more likely to die in childbirth than women in Greece, four times more likely than in Germany, and three times those in Spain, according to  the report entitled Deadly Delivery.

Systemic problems – some stemming from discrimination – exist for which there are solutions. As Michigan focuses on strengthening families, it must first ensure that the threat to the health and lives of mothers be substantially reduced. Amnesty International argues that improving these outcomes is not only a public health challenge but a human right.

In the face of these findings, recent legislative decisions to reduce or eliminate funding for several key programs to address maternal health such as family planning, infant mortality reduction, nurse-family partnership, fetal infant mortality review, and local maternal child health interventions could be deemed irresponsible.

— Jane Zehnder-Merrell

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