as republicans push for bigger budget cuts, slashed public health programmes mean maternal mortality is already ticking up
while republicans and democrats are engaged in apparently abstract debt reduction talks, it's worth noting that a cascade of federal, state and local spending cuts has already taken its toll on the health of pregnant women, mothers and babies. between 2003 and 2007, the average maternal mortality rate - defined by deaths that occur within 42 days of childbirth - has risen to 13 deaths per 100,000 live births, approximately double the low of 6.6 deaths per 100,000 live births recorded in 1987.
today, the united states ranks 41st in the world for maternal mortality
, one of the worst records among developed countries. "near misses", complications so severe that a woman nearly dies, have increased between 1998 and 2005 to become common - at one woman every 15 minutes....
... and yet, over the last seven years, federal spending for maternal and child health programmes has been reduced by 10%. that women can still bleed to death after childbirth in 21st-century america does not seem to bother lawmakers too much. (in new york city, in 2004, haemorrhaging was the leading cause of maternal death - approximately one third of all cases.)
maternal health services - including home visitation programmes for pregnant women, new mothers and their babies, infant health programmes, adolescent life and family programmes and community health centres - play an important role in ensuring women receive the care they need during and after pregnancy. these community health centres, for instance, can be lifesavers for low-income women with no easy access to medical practices located in more affluent areas. in 2011, the federal budget for these centres has been cut by 660m.
federal spending cuts have a trickledown effect. take california
, for example, which has been in the grip of a budget crisis since 2008, longer than most states, and has completely eliminated state general funds for maternal and child health. county councils have followed suit...
... under the global health initiative, the obama administration has intensified the us's commitment to improve maternal health in developing countries. given the rising death rate for american women, it's time for the president to step in forcefully to provide similar efforts at home, too. standards of maternal healthcare should not be allowed to deteriorate further under obama's watch....