Wednesday, April 14, 2010


Today the NYTimes reported "a significant drop worldwide" in maternal deaths due to pregnancy and childbirth. (This is huge in "my world" because I studied global health.) The recent study of 181 countries worldwide stated various possible reasons for the drop, the most interesting, I think, being the increase in the number of trained birth attendants during childbirth.

There is an amazing organization called One Heart, started by a nurse, Arlene Samen, in Tibet, where tradition for many years dictated that women deliver their babies alone (not to mention, at home, with no electricity, at high altitudes, very far from any health care services). One Heart is a charity (originated in Utah) that trains birth attendants in Tibetan communities; this method has significantly reduced maternal and infant mortality in Tibet. It is inspiring to read about what she and her organization have done.

For a long time, it has seemed that reducing maternal deaths worldwide was elusive because of the unnoticeable effects of many efforts and a lot of money. So, this is wonderful news.

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