As the world celebrates World Health Day, it is time to reflect on the remarkable progress made in global health. The Day’s theme of Universal Health Coverage highlights the importance of improving access to care, and underpins the Tokyo Declaration to achieve “health for all people, whoever they are, wherever they live, by 2030”.
Although global access to care has improved remarkably in the last few decades, with more and more vulnerable groups, including women and children, having access to care, it is noteworthy that half of the world still lacks access to care. Of those who do, an estimated 100 million people are being pushed into “extreme poverty” as a result of health expenditures.
Furthermore, despite the improvements observed in global access to care, maternal and under-5 mortalities have not shown commensurate improvements. Globally, over 300,000 women die every year due to pregnancy-related causes. Data on maternal morbidity is scarce, but the UNFPA has estimated it to be at least twenty-fold the burden of maternal mortality. Moreover, annually, over 2.6 million babies are born dead and another 2.7 million die in their first month of life.
It is, therefore, important to focus not only on improving access to care, but also on ensuring that access to care is equitable, and the care provided is of high quality. At the Centre for Maternal and Newborn Health at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, we work with low- and middle-income countries to improve access to quality care for mothers and babies by training healthcare providers, providing them with the essential equipment they need to deliver quality services and developing local and national capacity to create an environment that promotes provision of quality care.
Professor Dr Monir Islam, Senior Technical Officer at CMNH:
“Women giving their lives to bring life is not acceptable. All pregnant women deserve the best. Yet, available Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys show that delivery by a skilled birth attendant and antenatal care visits (more than four) have the greatest socioeconomic inequalities. Universal Health Coverage must address this by ensuring all pregnant women - whoever they are, wherever they live - have access to quality care during pregnancy and childbirth, and their newborns survive and remain healthy.”
You can read more about our work to improve the availability and quality of care for women and babies in the 2017 CMNH Annual Report.