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Women's e-News has a commentary today by Tajudeen Abdul-Rasheem, assistant director for Africa of the UN Millennium Campaign.  He writes of his sister's recent death of complications of childbirth, and the intensity that gives to his commitment to this goal of the Millennium Campaign.

In the year 2000, world leaders from 189 countries, rich and poor, pledged to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight benchmarks to eradicate extreme poverty, improve health, education and the environment, as well as create a global partnership for development by the year 2015. The fifth of these goals is to reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters. But this goal has had the least progress and is unlikely to be achieved unless urgent action is taken now.

Pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of death among women in developing countries.  Even women of education and economic privilege like Abul-Rasheem's sister are subject to such problems as inadequate medical care, lack of transportation, scarcity of medical resources.

Abdul-Rasheem challenges us with this statistic:

To show you how much surviving pregnancy is a matter of privilege, consider this fact: The risk of a woman dying as the result of pregnancy in a developed country is 1 in 7,300. In Africa, it is 1 in 26.

It is difficult to wrap one's mind around such a contrast.

On March 25, at 10:00 AM Eastern time, there will be an online discussion of maternal death co-sponsored by the UN Millenium Campaign and Women's e-News, with Annie Raja, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, Dr. Jemima A. Dennis-Antwi, the International Confederation of Midwives' Regional Midwifery Adviser for Anglophone Africa.

Sign up to log in to the debate at:

Questions for the panelists can be submitted in advance to

Originally posted to ramara on Thu Mar 19, 2009 at 09:45 PM PDT.

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