Jamaica | Mar 8, 2023

PAHO launches campaign to reduce maternal mortality in the region

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The health and well-being of mothers in the region have been a growing concern due to high incidences of maternal deaths in the Caribbean and Latin America which has propelled the Pan American Health Organization to partner with other United Nations to launch a public campaign.

The campaign was launched on Wednesday (March 8), a day that is also recognised as International Women’s Day, to encourage countries in the region to reduce maternal mortality.

The campaign will focus on the dissemination of social media messages and country-specific actions throughout May. It also includes a call for action to all of society to protect women and newborns.

According to PAHO’s data,  8,400 women die each year in the region from complications in pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum.

High blood pressure, severe bleeding, and complications from unsafe abortion are the most common causes. However, the health organization notes that nine out of ten of these deaths are preventable through quality care, access to contraception and by reducing inequities in access to care.

Dr Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO director, said during the launch of the campaign that “Too many women, particularly indigenous, Afro-descendant, migrant, low-income and less educated women, continue to die during pregnancy and childbirth.”

“It is time to urgently invest in maternal health and change this unacceptable reality,” he added.

The regional goal set out by PAHO in the Sustainable Health Agenda for the Americas, is less than 30 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

 In 2022, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in Latin America and the Caribbean was 68 per 100,000 live births.

MMR refers to maternal deaths per 100,000 live births for women of reproductive age (15-49 years), while maternal mortality refers to deaths due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth.

According to PAHO, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a 20-year setback in maternal health in the region, with a 15per cent increase in maternal mortality between 2016 and 2020, following a 16. 4 per cent reduction between 1990 and 2015.

Jamaica’s MMR in 2020 stood at 99 per 100,000 live births compared to 83 per 100,000 live births in 2015.

Trinidad and Tobago had the lowest MMR in the region, at 27 per 100,000 live births, followed by Cuba and Barbados which both had ratios of 39 per 100,000 live births. Jamaica had the fourth-highest MMR in the region.

Bahamas’ MMR stood at 77 per 100,000 live births, Guyana’s 112 per 100,000 live births while Haiti recorded the highest with 350 per 100,000 live births.


What To Read Next