Women and Child Health
by Louis C. Banag
The world witnesses millions of maternal, newborns, and children deaths from causes that can be prevented or treated; nearly 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. Sub-Saharan Africa is the hard hit region of such deaths with 13000 each day, which amount to 9 deaths every minute. Furthermore, a woman dies every minute during labor or delivery and women have a 1 in 22 life time risk of maternal mortality. However, the issue of maternal and child health in sub-Saharan Africa seems to be worse than data had reported because the scope of the problem is not well pictured.
The numbers suggest that maternal and children heath is still a critical issue in sub-Saharan Africa, even though mortality rate of children under age 5 has dropped between 1990 and 2011. The commonly known causes of maternal related and child mortality are HIV/AIDS, poverty and pregnancy related causes, inequitable distribution of health care professional, and lack of access to technology, as well as inadequate or existent infrastructures. However, there is critical maternal and children health issue that is not often addressed and is overlooked. That issue is the quality of measurement. As a matter of fact, the lack correct data due to the use of broken data collection systems and model estimates produce misleading results. Improving the systems of collecting information can make dissemination of data more credible and avoiding estimate models as much as possible are some of the factors that can help in the improvement of maternal and children health, as accurate measurements opens the door of adequate investment in maternal and children health systems leading to strategic planning and focused interventions.
This paper is a theoretical research; it uses review of literature explore trends, levels and differentials in maternal and children health data in sub-Saharan Africa. This analysis suggests that there is a gap between reported data and the real situation in the field throughout sub-Saharan Africa. In sub-Saharan Africa, only one-third of its 46 countries have the capacity to collect data and the quality of data collected varies from one country to another. The remaining two-third lack the tools to collect data.
The deficiency of accurate data make it difficult to plan for a reasonable long term approach and a strengthened maternal and child health care.
The quality and quantity of measurement are among essential factors that should be considered in the planning and prioritization, health system performance, platforms for scaling up intervention, and necessary investments in maternal and child health systems. A rethink of data collection methods and systems as well as micro-economic development policies in sub-Saharan Africa can systematically change the trends of maternal, newborn and children deaths, and bring about changes in the health care system in general.