The Disappointing Rank Of US In Maternal And Child Health
Save the Children’s annual report on maternal health paints a disturbing picture in the U.S. Despite being one of the most developed nations in the world with access to the best of technology and some of the brightest medical and social service minds, the U.S. ranks last of developed nations in an area that impacts the health of the entire nation. The study titled State of the World’s Mothers 2015 was produced by an international education and aid organization that works to address the needs of children around the world. A mother’s health and survival through childbirth is an early indicator of what her child’s opportunities will be.
Ranking 179 nations around the world, the report lists the U.S. in 61st place in maternal health. One of the most concerning trends in regards to maternal and infant health and mortality is the efforts the U.S. focuses through organizations such as USAID to help address needs elsewhere while allowing itself to lag domestically. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about 650 women die each year in the U.S. related to childbirth or pregnancy complications. The CDC collects data to track causes of death, notes disparities present related to race and access to care, and educates providers on prevention.
According to the State of the World’s Mothers report, the top five nations for the overall well-being of mothers are Norway, Finland, Iceland, Denmark and Sweden. This is attributed to systematic commitments these countries have made to addressing education, economic and political status for women overall. Among the significant differences between how these countries support mothers better than the U.S. currently does is longer paid maternity leave, universal healthcare with a strong focus on access to care and high access to contraceptive options that allow mothers to space children and plan pregnancy. With the Affordable Care Act beginning to address access to health insurance and preventative care, the U.S. may begin to see improved outcomes for mothers as well.
Maternal health is not limited to mortality rates but also overall health. Maternal health concerns begin prior to pregnancy, impacting infant health and mortality as well as a mother’s ability to care for her child throughout life, including her own ability to access care consistently. Healthy People 2020, an initiative of the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, seeks to address the numerous health issues that mothers face throughout their lives, recognizing how they relate to pregnancy, childbirth and the child’s lifetime health and well-being. Addressing persistent and concerning disparities in health and healthcare quality is at the focus of the efforts being made by Healthy People 2020 and other initiatives around the nation.