In recent decades, the world has seen significant declines in infant and maternal mortality rates. But women and babies still die in staggering numbers before, during and after childbirth.
Most of these deaths can be averted with better-quality health care. Worldwide, more preventable deaths – an estimated 8 million – occur from poor-quality health care than from lack of access to care. Especially for the most vulnerable, patient care is too often inadequate.
Basic medicines and supplies; clean, well-equipped health facilities; and simple interventions like exclusive breastfeeding and skin-to-skin contact between parents and newborns help reduce the risk of maternal and infant death. The ability of health workers, including skilled birth attendants, to swiftly respond to danger signs around the time of delivery also saves lives.
An estimated two thirds of all newborn and maternal deaths can be prevented with the help of well-trained midwives.