Maternal Morbidity and Disability and Their Consequences: Neglected Agenda in Maternal Health

Marge Koblinsky, Mahbub Elahi Chowdhury, Allisyn Moran, Carine Ronsmans


Women’s ill-health and its consequences are poorly defined. Despite women living longer than men, their lives are not necessarily healthy, according to the 2009 Women and Health Report of the World Health Organization (WHO) (1). One condition that impacts only women and may contribute to continued ill-health is pregnancy and childbirth. Whereas the appropriate use of skilled birth attendance with supportive emergency obstetric care can reduce health risks during pregnancy and childbirth, there are negative consequences of maternal ill-health that reach far beyond the health of the mother at the time of pregnancy and childbirth. These consequences can lead to her death, further morbidities or disability in the extended postpartum period (up to one year) and can negatively impact the health of her baby, the health of her other children, and the social and economic standing of her family. Except outcomes of the newborns, such consequences are poorly understood both in quality and magnitude and remain, to a largeextent, without any programmatic response in lowincome countries.

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