Four things that every woman should know about global maternal health

Four things to know about global maternal health | Breaking Glass Podcast

We headed to Australia this week to hear a truly remarkable story about a survivor and activist, Aminata Conteh Biger. Aminata grew up in a well-off family in the capital of Sierra Leone, where her father prioritized the education and opportunities for his six daughters. She had a happy and protected childhood until the truly devastating civil war broke out in her country resulting in the deaths of more than 50,000 individuals. Aminata’s own story of survival during this time is unbelievable, but it doesn’t end with the war. After rebuilding her life in Australia, Aminata ultimately endured the traumatic birth of her first child. After that experience, Aminata refocused her entire life on changing maternal health outcomes in her home country of Sierra Leone, one of the worst in the world for maternal and child mortality rates. She founded the Aminata Maternal Foundation and has since reached tens of thousands of mothers with quality health care and raised more than $400,000. Her story is one of unimaginable trauma. But it’s also one of incredible hope, optimism, and impact. Here is what we want every woman to understand about global maternal health:

  1. Mortality risk during pregnancy is high in Africa  – Sierra Leone ranks alongside the Central Republic of Arica, Chad, Nigeria, and South Sudan in terms of highest maternal mortality rates around the world. In Sierra Leone, the lifetime risk of dying while having a baby is 1 in 17.
  2. Low-cost interventions save lives – There are many low-resource ways to radically improve maternal health outcomes. Skin to skin contact and immediate breastfeeding after birth, for example, can significantly reduce infant and child mortality.
  3. The United States ranks low in global maternal health – Despite being considered a developed country, the United States comes in at 55th place on the global maternal health index.
  4. Maternal health disparities persist in the United States – Maternal mortality rates are 3-4 times higher for Black, American Indian, and Alaskan Native women in the United States. 

If you’re inspired to take action or learn more about maternal health in the United States and across the globe, visit the following resources:

Aminata on Breaking Glass