by Ann Starrs, Family Care International
December 15, 2006 - 10:00 am
Ann M. Starrs is Executive Vice President for Family Care International.
Five weeks ago, some 8-10,000 of the world's obstetrician-gynecologists met in Kuala Lumpur for their triennial Congress. While the meeting paid more attention to the problem of maternal mortality and morbidity in the developing world than it ever has in the past, the fact is that much of the conference proceedings were about new technologies, innovative techniques, and drugs under development – many of which will have no impact whatsoever on the health of 95% of the pregnant women of the world, because they are unaffordable and inaccessible to those women.
This week, in Tunisia, about 100 maternal health advocates, health care professionals, and program planners met to talk about an approach that could have a tremendous impact on women's ability to go through pregnancy and childbirth safely, if it can generate the policy commitment, strategic thinking, and funding it needs and deserves: how to train, deploy, and support midwives in or close to the communities where women are living – and dying.