Project HOPE Responds to Biden-Harris Administration’s Maternal Health Investment Announcement
Project HOPE Urges Action During Black Maternal Health Week
Bethesda, MD (April 15, 2021) — President Biden issued the first-ever presidential proclamation to mark Black Maternal Health Week, calling on all Americans to recognize the racial disparities in maternal health, and the crisis of maternal mortality and morbidity in the United States. During Black Maternal Health Week, the Biden-Harris Administration announced plans and investments designed to address the maternal health crisis effecting millions in the U.S.
Project HOPE welcomes the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to women and maternal health. Eden Ahmed Mdluli, Project HOPE’s Senior Technical Officer for Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health, issued the following statement in response:
“Access to quality health care and a healthy life is a human right. Our world’s wealthiest nations have a responsibility – to their own people, and across the global community – to address racial and ethnic disparities that harm and hinder the lives of women and girls. Women in the U.S. today should not have to carry the burden of fearing that their chances of mortality before and after pregnancy are higher than they were 20 years ago.
“And while women’s health faces barriers across the board, it’s unacceptable that Black women in the U.S. experience maternal mortality and morbidity rates many-fold more than their white counterparts. Many of these deaths are preventable, so we must do better to support expecting mothers domestically and across the world.
“Actions speak louder than words, so the investments announced this Black Maternal Health Week are a promising step forward for one of the world’s wealthiest nations with some of the worst maternal mortality rates. By putting women at the center, and by reimagining our approach to women’s health, we can save lives and shape hopeful futures where people can thrive.”
Related: It’s Time to Rethink Our Approach to Women’s Health
On International Women’s Day, March 8, 2021, Eden Ahmed Mdluli issued a statement on our approach to women’s health. Read the full perspective here. Excerpts for reporting purposes:
“Every entity, every person, and every organization can play a part in making a world where women do better a reality. All of us — including those who work in global health — can do better by considering women’s health and well-being needs within the socioeconomic realities that shape their entire life-course.”
“For women in particular, the pandemic has undoubtedly erased hard-won gains. There is a glimmer of hope, however, in that the last year has allowed us to see more clearly those who are not well protected, who have suffered the most, and how we can begin to change that, each of us starting within our own spheres of influence.”
Facts & Figures
- America’s maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the developed world and have been increasing since 2000.
- Black women in the U.S. are roughly two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic white women.
- These disparities are not unique to the U.S., however. In the U.K., which has universal health coverage, maternal deaths were five times more common among Black women in the pre-pandemic period and two times more common among Asian women. Achieving equity in maternal outcomes remains a global challenge.
- Two out of three maternal deaths are preventable.
- Currently, there is not a comprehensive national approach that counts and reviews all U.S. pregnancy-associated deaths.
- An estimated 31 percent of U.S. pregnancy-related deaths occur during pregnancy; 17 percent occur on the day of delivery; and 52 percent occur after delivery, or postpartum.
- The U.S. has the lowest overall supply of midwives and ob-gyns — 12 providers per 1,000 live births. All other countries, besides Canada, in the Commonwealth Study have a supply that is between two and six times greater.
- The World Health Organization recommends at least four health contacts in the first six weeks, yet U.S. women typically have a single office-based physician visit within this period, and some don’t have one at all.
- Among mothers who say their mental health had been negatively impacted by the pandemic, nearly half (46%) report they did not get the mental health services or medications they needed, representing about one in four (27%) mothers overall.
- In 2020, through its Maternal, Neonatal, and Child Health programs, Project HOPE reached a total of 259,358 women, newborns, children under 5, and health care workers worldwide. We trained 3,404 health care workers in essential maternal and neonatal interventions and provided direct services to 214,739 pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as 5,890 children under five.
Additional Resources from Health Affairs, the leading journal of health policy thought and research:
- Post-ACA, More Than One-Third Of Women With Prenatal Medicaid Remained Uninsured Before Or After Pregnancy
- Medicaid Expansion Improved Perinatal Insurance Continuity For Low-Income Women
- Medicaid Expansion Increased Preconception Health Counseling, Folic Acid Intake, And Postpartum Contraception
About Project HOPE:
Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian relief organization that is committed to placing power in the hands of local health care workers to save lives across the globe. Project HOPE has worked to save the lives of women and babies around the world since 1985. Our strategic priority is to achieve a global community where no woman or newborn risks dying from preventable causes. That’s why we are working every day to improve access to quality care, build the skills of health care workers, and expand community support in places where mothers and infants need it most. Read more here.