Spotlights on Health and Rights

Key topics in the Heilbrunn Department of Population and Family Health

Reproductive Health

Preventing Maternal Mortality

Promoting Safe Motherhood

Maternal death is directly correlated with lack of access to quality obstetrical care, family planning services, abortion facilities, and post-abortion care.

The International Conference on Population Development (1994), the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing (1995), and the Millennium Development Goals recognize the prevention of maternal death as an international public health priority. The reduction of maternal mortality is a leading Millennium Development Goal (MDG), which calls for a 75% reduction in maternal mortality by the year 2015.

Since the majority of maternal deaths are directly related to complications of pregnancy, childbirth, and the immediate post-partum period, the most significant strategy is to assure the availability, quality, and utilization of emergency obstetric care (EMOC) and skilled attendants at the time of delivery. In some parts of the world, projects designed to reduce maternal mortality have been successful, however in other parts of the world (particularly Africa and Asia) the numbers have not improved.

The components of basic and comprehensive EMOC are outlined below:

For more information about maternal mortality, visit

For information about Emergency Obstetric Care in the United States read, S. Lobis, D. Fry, A, Paxton, Program note: Applying the UN Process Indicators for Emergency Obstetric Care to the United States, International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (2005) 88, 207-207.