From August 30 to September 1, more than 600 maternal health experts gathered in New Delhi for the Global Maternal Health Conference 2010, the first international technical conference devoted exclusively to maternal health. Hon’ble Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Shri Gulam Nabi Azad and Shri Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission graced the occasion with their presence at the inaugural ceremony of the Conference. Hosted by the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth and the Public Health Foundation of India, the conference aims to increase consensus and coordination around the evidence, programs, and advocacy needed to advance maternal health.
Defined as ‘the health of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period’, maternal health continues to present a challenge at local, national and global levels. According to the latest estimates, more than 342,000 women worldwide die due to preventable pregnancy or childbirth complications every year, and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. India contributes to almost 21% of the global burden of maternal deaths with nearly 70,000 women in India dying annually due to pregnancy and childbirth related causes.
“We are bringing together health professionals, advocates, researchers, donors, policymakers, and others to coordinate efforts and leverage our collective resources so that we can eradicate preventable maternal deaths in our lifetimes,” says Ann Blanc, Director of the Maternal Health Task Force at EngenderHealth. This conference is the perfect venue to continue to accelerate the momentum toward achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal No. 5 (improve maternal health).
Over the course of three days, the conference focused on six major themes, which were presented through plenaries, presentations, and posters (over 400 presentations), including:
Existing, affordable interventions, specifically innovative technologies that are saving women’s lives
Underlying factors affecting maternal health, including nutrition, violence, gender equity
Broader health system solutions, including task sharing and emergency referrals
The role of policy and advocacy in advancing maternal health
Leveraging the power of digital technology and new media to help women obtain emergency obstetric care and to collect vital health data
“The fact that we are holding the Conference in India is significant,” according to Dr. Beena Varghese, Head, Research Development at the Public Health Foundation of India. “India in the past few years has made significant progress in reducing maternal deaths; however, more needs to be done, as this nation still accounts for a majority of maternal deaths globally every year. By hosting this summit in Delhi, India is demonstrating its commitment to improving maternal health within the country and beyond.”