|Making Motherhood Safe (World Bank, 1993, 161 pages)|
Women's health has received relatively little attention in developing countries. Maternal mortality rates, for example, show the widest disparity between industrial and developing countries of any human development indicator. The World Bank recognizes that policies to improve women's health are not only humanitarian, but economically sound as well. Well directed interventions to improve women's health, particularly when combined with education, also expand the social and economic capacity of countries through the contributions of those women and their healthier, more productive children.
The World Bank is a cosponsor of the Safe Motherhood Initiative and has assisted in the development of a large and growing number of activities in all regions of the world, designed to reduce maternal illness and death. The number of Bank-assisted projects with safe motherhood components has increased from six in 1987 to more than seventy in 1993.
This paper was prepared to facilitate policy dialogue and program design, implementation and evaluation in maternal health and family planning. The information and direction for the paper came from workshops and conferences, interviews with World Bank staff, research and program evaluations, commissioned papers, and WHO technical documents. The Meeting of Partners for Safe Motherhood held in March 1992 provided a valuable opportunity to explore many of these ideas and project experiences in more detail.
The paper is intended for the use of World Bank staff, but we hope that it will also provide guidance to governments, other international agencies, and nongovernmental organizations in the design and implementation of programs to reduce maternal mortality and improve the status of women. In the words of Lewis Preston, President of the World Bank, "Safe motherhood is a high priority for the World Bank.... We all know what has to be done. We have the means to do it. Together, we can halve maternal mortality by the end of the decade. We can help women have more voice and choice in their lives. We can transform the prospects of this generation of women." And the prospects of all those who follow.
Janet de Merode
Director, Population, Health and Nutrition Department