INSIGHT: Preventing Maternal Deaths Part 1

Research and Best Practices Impact Maternal Mortality Rate

The health of women and children is crucial to creating a healthy world. Despite some global progress, there are still too many mothers and children dying — largely from causes that could have been prevented. The World Health Organization (WHO), estimates that over 300,000 women across the globe die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications every year.

To help raise awareness and encourage discussion, the INSIGHT series was launched in February to run through December of this year. Every other month, we have been highlighting issues surrounding maternal mortality and what we as nurses can do to help improve patient outcomes. For the final posts in this series, we will review best practices and look at where we go from here.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) hosted the Maternal Mortality Summit: Promising Global Practices to Improve Maternal Health Outcomes. HRSA convened the summit to discuss evidence-based approaches and identify innovative solutions to decreasing maternal mortality and morbidity rates both in the U.S. and across the globe. The summit brought together national and international subject matter experts to discuss and share current practices and new strategies that may be successful in reducing maternal mortality and morbidity.

During the summit presentations, maternal health experts identified challenges that women experience in receiving quality healthcare from preconception to postpartum periods and outlined opportunities for improvement in these areas. The scope of the summit indicated some pivotal areas for improvement including:

  • Access – Improve access to comprehensive care, especially in underserved and rural areas
  • Safety – Improve safety protocols in birthing facilities (including provider knowledge, training, and preparedness)
  • Healthcare Providers – Provide continuity of care before, during and after pregnancies
  • Data – Improve quality and availability of national and international research and survey data
  • Review Committees – Improve quality and consistency of maternal mortality review committees (collaborate and utilize standardized review committees to address causes and implement findings)
  • Enhanced partnerships – Engage in opportunities for productive collaborations

There are many partners including the academic community, governments, health providers and community-based organizations working on programs to lower the number of maternal deaths across the globe. Next week, we will review some initiatives underway in the U.S. by the Association of Women’s Health, Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses (AWHONN) and Alliance for Innovation on Maternal Health (AIM) to be followed by initiatives in Kenya.

We welcome your feedback and encourage you to share any research or maternal mortality initiatives that you are involved in. If you have follow-up questions or suggestions, please email us at  [email protected]

Yours in Nursing,


Lisa D. Cole, MA, RN
Director
MBF Center for Global Nursing Development