By Benedict David, Principal Health Advisor, AusAID
Sadly, having enough food for their families to eat, water to drink and a school for their children to attend will be enough reason for millions of mothers in the developing world to celebrate this Sunday. That’s if they even make it through childbirth.
According to Save the Children’s 2012 State of the World’s Mothers report released this week, over half of all births are not attended by skilled health personnel and, on average, 1 in 30 women will die from pregnancy-related causes.
The needs of pregnant women in the developing world are no different to those in wealthy countries like Australia. However, while Australia has on average $3000 to $3500 dollars per person for health care per year, developing countries such as PNG have no more than $30 to $40 dollars for health care per person per year. Less than 25 per cent of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Afghanistan, Chad, Laos and Nepal. In Ethiopia, this number is even lower at only six per cent.
Australia is working hard to turn this situation around and give mothers in poor countries a chance. Australia supports maternal health programs in Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, East Timor, Pakistan, Philippines, Vietnam, Tanzania, Afghanistan, Nepal and across the Pacific.