President, Family Care International
Ann Starrs is president and co-founder of Family Care International, a non-governmental organization dedicated to making pregnancy and childbirth safer in the developing world. Ann is widely recognized as a leading advocate and technical expert on maternal health, and has authored or co-authored numerous technical papers and commentaries on global health policy issues. She is a member of steering committees and advisory boards for a broad range of international maternal and reproductive health initiatives, and served as co-chair of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health from 2005 to 2011. Ann has a Masters degree from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and a certificate in Demography from Princeton’s Office of Population Research, and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
UNAIDS and PEPFAR recently released a report on progress toward achieving an AIDS-free generation. Though there has been great progress, the report almost completely ignores the second target of the groups’ Global Plan: mothers.
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.