Maternal deaths cut by contraception
July 11th 2012
A new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University shows that fulfilling unmet contraception demand by women in developing countries could reduce global maternal mortality by nearly a third, a potentially great improvement for one of the world’s most vulnerable populations.
The proportion of international population assistance funds that went to family planning fell to just 6 percent in 2008, down from 55 percent in 1995, while spending on H.I.V./AIDS represented 74 percent of the total in 2008, up from just 9 percent in 1995, according to Rachel Nugent, a professor of global health at the University of Washington, who cited figures from the United Nations Population Fund.
But population growth has continued to surge, with the United Nations estimating last year that the world’s population, long expected to stabilize, will instead keep growing. Population experts warn that developing countries, particularly those in sub-Saharan Africa, where fertility continues to be high and shortages of food and water are worsening, will face deteriorating conditions if family sizes do not shrink.
The authors of the Lancet study, researchers at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins, found that the number of maternal deaths in those countries in 2008 would have nearly doubled without contraception. They acknowleged, however, that maternal mortality record-keeping is weak in developing countries, a limitation of the study. They also found that an additional 29 percent of the deaths could have been prevented if women who wanted birth control would have received it, a concept called unmet need that is estimated using surveys of mothers in developing countries.
Read the entire article: The New York Times
View the Lancet special issue on family planning
More on this issue: Poor reproductive health
- World maternal deaths halve in 20 years
- Africa: Political instability hinders maternal health progress
- African policy makers to discuss maternal and reproductive health
- Latin America & the Caribbean: Unmet need for contraception and unsafe abortion is widespread
- When a Country Cracks Down on Contraception: Grim Lessons from the Philippines