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Summary of Week 3

Summary of the week's learning and key issues in the field of maternal health from Dr Veronique Filippi.

In 2013, close to 280,000 women lost their lives in childbirth. Most of these deaths occurred in low-income countries. While we have seen substantial progress in the reduction of the numbers of deaths since the early 1990s and particularly in the past 10 years, there is still a great deal more to achieve by 2030. Safe motherhood advocates often state that ‘we know what to do’. It is true that we know a great deal about the interventions needed to promote maternal survival, and what we need now is the ‘know-how’ to deliver these interventions to the women who need them in the most efficient manner.

Several topics this week looked at how, why, and when mothers die, what can be done to save them and how we can reduce adverse effects to their health. Future priorities will very much focus on improvements to quality of care, increasing accountability, and addressing not just obstetric complications but also chronic, sometimes debilitating health conditions such as postpartum depression and diabetes.

The subject of maternal health is vast, and we are aware that we could not cover all topics. Nevertheless, we hope that those covered will boost your interest in this area and help you to become more involved in maternal health, as an advocate, practitioner, researcher or teacher.

You may be interested in joining our new course The Lancet Maternal Health Series: Global Research and Evidence, which builds on the areas covered in Week 3 in greater depth.

Week 4 of this course will explore the priority challenges in neonatal health. Despite significant progress in reducing childhood mortality there are still more than 6.7 million deaths of children under five every year, and almost half of these occur in the first month of life. Please join us to learn about the priorities that must be addressed to improve the health of very young babies.

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Improving the Health of Women, Children and Adolescents: from Evidence to Action

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