Preventing maternal and child mortality: upcoming WHO Resolution must galvanise action to tackle the unacceptable weight of preventable death

Ali Hajji Adam and Mekdes Daba
May 22 2024

Global progress on improving maternal, newborn, and child survival has stalled. Many regions of the world continue to experience persistently high rates of maternal and child mortality, and despite improvements between 2000 and 2015, progress is now stagnating.1 The combination of ongoing and new conflicts, climate change, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic create a perfect storm to drive back any gains that might have been made during the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) era.

The global community is off track from our targets for reducing maternal mortality (SDG 3.1)2 and ending preventable deaths of newborns and children younger than 5 years (SDG 3.2).3 Globally, 287 000 women died from a maternal cause in 2020, averaging 223 deaths of mothers for each livebirth.1 For children younger than 5 years, 4·9 million died globally in 2022, 2·3 million of these in the first month of life.4 In addition, almost 1·9 million babies were stillborn in 2021.5 .


‘Pregnancy is not a disease’: why do so many women die giving birth in Nigeria?

More than 80,000 Nigerian women died from pregnancy-related complications in 2020, a statistic activists say reflects a lack of political will to fix a broken medical system

by Kasia Strek in Lagos (The Guardian)
Tue 16 Apr 2024

Despite having the largest economy in Africa, Nigeria also loses more women to death in childbirth than most other countries in the world. In 2020, about 82,000 Nigerian women died due to pregnancy-related complications, a slight improvement on the previous year, but an increase on previous decades.

The causes of death included severe haemorrhage, high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia and eclampsia), unsafe abortion and obstructed labour. Doctors and activists say high maternal mortality rates reflect a lack of trust in a broken public healthcare system and little political will to fix it.


Poland has a strict abortion law – and many abortions. Lawmakers are now tackling the legislation

By Vanessa Gera, The Associated Press
April 11, 2024

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland’s parliament held a long-awaited debate Thursday on liberalizing the country’s strict abortion law. The traditionally Catholic nation has one of the most restrictive laws in Europe, but many women terminate pregnancies at home with pills mailed from abroad.

Lawmakers in the lower house of parliament considered four proposals and will vote Friday on whether to send them for further work.


Syria – Despite risks, Women resort to unsafe abortions in Idlib

Enab Baladi

Women in Idlib province face societal difficulties and pressures when they decide to undergo an abortion. These pressures come from relatives, neighbors, and even doctors, despite the woman’s need for the procedure in some cases.

Some believe that abortion is religiously forbidden in Islam and other religions, and this applies not only to Idlib but to many countries that criminalize such operations, considering it as taking a life.


‘Beyond Borders’ gives U.S. state lawmakers a global human rights perspective on abortion


In the nearly two years since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the constitutional right to abortion in the United States, the abortion landscape has become fragmented and increasingly polarized.  In more than half of the 50 U.S. states, abortion is now completely banned, heavily restricted or under legal threat.

With that divided landscape as a backdrop, dozens of U.S. state-level lawmakers gathered recently with abortion rights advocates and human rights experts from the United States and ten other countries to share ideas and strategies for expanding abortion access in legally restrictive settings.


Costa Rica Threatens IACHR Departure on Abortion

By Ileana Fernandez
December 16, 2023

In a recent interview, President Rodrigo Chaves of Costa Rica acknowledged the possibility of withdrawing the country from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR Court) if the court mandates changes to national legislation on abortion.

The discussion arose in connection with the ongoing analysis of the “Beatriz case” against El Salvador by the IACHR Court.


Abortion pill mifepristone: An explainer and research roundup about its history, safety and future

Amid pending court cases and ballot initiatives, journalistic coverage of medication abortion has never been more crucial. This piece aims to help inform the narrative with scientific evidence.

by Naseem S. Miller
November 1, 2023

Access to mifepristone, a medication that’s used for the safe termination of early pregnancy, hangs in the balance while the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether to take up a case that could determine the legal future of the abortion medication.

In August, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that mifepristone should not be prescribed past the seventh week of pregnancy, prescribed via telemedicine, or shipped to patients through the mail. In September, the Justice Department asked the Supreme Court to consider a challenge to that ruling.


Despite progress, challenges persist in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the WHO European Region

18 October 2023
World Health Organization

While significant strides have been taken to enhance sexual and reproductive health and rights in the WHO European Region, challenges persist. In the run-up to the 73rd session of the WHO Regional Committee for Europe, WHO/Europe hosted a side event on this topic to discuss these key challenges with partners from across the Region.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are crucial for overall health and well-being, gender equality, and societal development, as recognized by the Sustainable Development Goals. Over the past two decades, the Region has made significant progress in improving SRHR. However, considerable inequalities persist in SRHR outcomes among Member States.


On International Safe Abortion Day, women demand access to abortion through strong public health systems

On September 28, health and women’s rights activists are mobilizing to demand universal access to safe abortion and an end to the persecution of reproductive justice advocates

September 28, 2023
by Peoples Health Dispatch

On September 28, health and women’s rights activists worldwide commemorate International Safe Abortion Day, warning against the persisting disparities in access to sexual and reproductive health services in different countries. Numerous international treaties and declarations, such as the 1993 Vienna Declaration, advocate for the universal guarantee of access to safe abortion, and international bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) actively promote this cause, yet countless women continue to face barriers when seeking this essential health care service.

As part of a global call to action, this year, activists are rallying for the universal decriminalization of abortion, improved access to high-quality post-abortion care, the inclusion of medical abortion pills on national essential medicines lists, and an end to the persecution of reproductive justice advocates, among other objectives.


Widening access to quality abortion care from the grassroots up

Testimonies of how access to quality abortion make a difference in the lives of women and girls

28 September 2023
World Health Organization

This year, International Safe Abortion Day profiles the unstoppable movement that is shaped by the diverse sexual and reproductive health community around the world, dedicated to protecting and promoting access to abortion care that is safe, affordable, timely and dignified.

In a series of captivating stories, the World Health Organization together with  IBP Network highlights some important key players in this abortion care movement: local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and civil society organizations (CSOs). In many parts of the world, these organizations are successfully translating WHO’s research and evidence-based recommendations into concrete actions that support women and girls’ agency and right to health.