'Neglect,' not biology, kills 1 in 20 women in Africa

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One in 20 women in Africa is at risk of dying in childbirth, but "[i]t's not biology that kills them so much as neglect," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes in an opinion piece.

Because "[n]either Western donor countries like the U.S., nor poor recipients like Cameroon care much about Africans who are poor, rural and female," half a million women annually die "needlessly" during pregnancy, according to Kristof. Although "[w]e know exactly how to save the lives of women" during pregnancy and childbirth, "[n]either left nor right has focused adequately on maternal health," Kristof writes, adding that "abortion politics have distracted all sides from what is really essential."

According to Kristof, what is needed is a "major aid campaign to improve midwifery, prenatal care and emergency obstetric services in poor countries."

He adds, "[W]e could provide all effective interventions for maternal and newborn health to 95% of the world's population for an additional $9 billion per year" (Kristof, New York Times, 9/24).


Kaiser Health NewsThis article was reprinted from khn.org with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.

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