In September, the Lancet launched a global Maternal Health Series in New York City to address the high global maternal death rate that falls short of reaching the Millennium Development Goal: Improve Maternal Health.
The Canadian sub-launch of the Series will be front and centre at an upcoming meeting in Ottawa this week.
The right to good quality, woman-centred maternal health care is universal. The guiding message of the Lancet series is: every woman, every newborn, everywhere has the right to good quality care. The Series invited global leaders to report on maternal health to help develop solutions for change and better health care for women world-wide.
One those invited to contribute was BC Women's Hospital VP of medical affairs, Dr. Dorothy Shaw. Renowned for her work in championing women-centred care, Dr. Shaw is also clinical professor, department of gynecology and medical genetics at UBC. She was also recently appointed as Officer to the Order of Canada.
This week, Dr. Shaw will present the highlights of the Lancet published research, Drivers of maternity care in high-income countries: Can health systems support women-centred care? Some of the key findings of the paper, which examines high-income countries and their health systems, include:
- There is contradictory evidence about the safest place to give birth - at home, in a birthing centre or hospital.
- Most high-income countries lack robust surveillance systems for determining maternal deaths, and to accurately identify the underlying cause of death and instances of preventable death.
- There is no data indicating if a birth companion was present during births, yet evidence shows that the presence of a birthing companion improves outcomes for mothers and babies.
- It is almost impossible to determine rates of Caesarian section (C-section) as primary (or first time) Caesarian births or repeat Caesarian births, and whether the C-sections were elective versus those performed during labour.
- In Canada, there is little and inconsistent data for important indicators such as mothers' ethnicity, overall mortality rates and how many birthing centres exist.
The findings by Dr. Shaw and her co-authors will provide policy makers and health care providers with valuable insights to consider, and may ultimately mean better data, better teaching, and better care for women and their babies.