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Although maternal mortality is less than 1% in developed countries, with 20 deaths per 100,000 births, in Africa the mortality rate is 20 times larger.  Specifically, in Sub-Saharan Africa, the vast majority of the deaths are from fairly preventable, treatable and/or normative processes during or shortly following birth like hemorrhaging and infection.  In this area, the number of deaths peaks again, at over 40 times greater than that in developed countries.  This information was obtained from 45 African countries between 1997 and 2006 from the World Health Organization, the World Bank, the United Nations Children’s Fund, and the United Nations Development Program.  Correlative data seems to suggest “education, above all for women, is higher in countries with lower maternal death rates.”  Additionally, access to medical centers, clean drinking water, and addressing economic factors all seem to be positively linked with pre- and post- natal care for both mother and child.

Development is not something that happens only intrapsychically, dydically or even solely within the nuclear or community system.  Broffenbrenner’s idea about ecological development is evident here, especially in the face of poverty.  Even with the best intentions of parents and the most balanced of communities, if a mother does not have access to medical care in the case of complications after birth, she may die.  The absence of mother may and intuitively, probably would, affect child outcomes.

In talking about dealing with poverty as an outsider, organizations often refer to the difference between relief and development.  Ideally, relief is only used immediately following disasters, has a strict timeline, and aimed at addressing immediate concerns.  An example of a relief would be bringing bottled water after the earthquake in Haiti.  Development is used to help people in their affected areas “solve their own problems” and create their own sustainable solutions.  An example of this would be training Haitian professionals to become EMTs and doctors so that they can treat their own sick.  How can countries and organizations interested in improving maternal mortality rates use a development as opposed to relief model when it comes to creating maternal clinics?  Once those sustainable clinics are created, how will locals go about allaying misconceptions about the medicine so that the services are utilized?

Plataforma SINC (2010). Most maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa could be avoided.  ScienceDaily.  Retrieved March 12, 2010, from

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