|Mother-Baby Package: Implementing Safe Motherhood in Countries (WHO, 1996, 108 p.)|
We stand at the threshold of a new century. At this moment, the future is our concern and must be our common responsibility. The future is for human beings - their lives and deaths, their personal relations, their happiness and suffering.
Women are crucial to social and economic development. Their health and well-being matters to themselves, to their families and to communities. Moreover, the health and well-being of women is a critical ingredient of the generation of the future. Women undertake a vital function of bearing and raising our children. Yet insufficient attention has been paid to ensuring that they do so in safety.
Pregnancy and childbirth are natural processes but they are by no means risk-free. Women and children die and suffer because they do not have access to the basic minimum of health care that is their right. Worldwide, only half the women in labour have someone nearby who can help if things go wrong. More than half a million women die each year as a direct result of pregnancy-related complications. Another 20 million at least suffer serious and long-lasting illnesses or disabilities. Every year, 4 million newborn infants die and millions more are disabled because of poorly managed pregnancies and deliveries.
It is not for lack of knowledge that the majority of the worlds women still face the prospect of death or disability as a consequence of childbearing. The burden of death and the stigma of permanent injury are borne by women and their newborn infants in large part because we, the holders of knowledge, the bearers of political authority and the architects of health and social programmes, have failed to exercise our full creative capacity and to commit our energies and resources to the health and development needs of women.
WHO has pledged, along with its United Nations partners, to reduce mortality and morbidity significantly among mothers and infants by the end of this century. Achieving these goals does not require sophisticated technology. It requires comparatively modest but sustainable funding. It also requires a consistent strategy to promote safe motherhood and newborn care.
WHO has now made a strategy to deal with this issue available to countries. The Mother-Baby Package is a practical tool to intensify promotive, preventive, treatment and rehabilitation interventions for mothers and infants. It offers guidance on improving skills, equipment, research, standards of care, monitoring and evaluation, while focusing on the delivery of family-friendly services at the local level.
Several countries have already started the process of development and implementation of the strategies outlined in the Package. It is my conviction that a concerted and well-coordinated effort to implement these simple and cost-effective interventions will permit us to attain our goals of significantly reducing maternal and newborn mortality and morbidity and improving the health and well-being of women and children - our common future.
Hiroshi Nakajima, M.D., Ph.D.