Celebrities urge world leaders to save women and newborns

The White Ribbon Alliance are demanding that the G8 live up to the Millennium promise to make motherhood safer across the developing world

Childbirth should be one of the most joyful events in life, yet for millions of women in the developing world it is exactly the opposite, as they continue to suffer the devastating effects of poor maternal care.

More than 1,400 women and newborn babies die every day from preventable causes during childbirth, nearly all of these in the developing world where 85% of the population lives.

The worst affected regions are the sub-Saharan Africa, in countries such as Niegira, Somalia and Malawi, where there are over 1,000 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births – a figure which is less than 10 in the UK.

‘The lives of pregnant women and their unborn children are at risk because maternity services are chronically underfunded,’ says Onyema Afulukwe of the Centre for Reproductive Rights in New York.

A lack of hospitals, trained doctors and medical supplies is responsible for the problem, due to a severe shortage of funding in this area of medicine. There is also a lack of education helping women to seek medical intervention when they need it.

Communities are shattered by the loss of their mothers and future generations, without whom they cannot begin to tackle their way out of poverty.

‘It’s obvious that without a healthy young population a country can never grow prosperous; it’s just as obvious that we should look after women, for they hold the key to development,’ says Prime Minister David Cameron.

Back at the start of the millennium, campaigners demanded action to stop this scandal and the international community promised to reduce child deaths by two thirds and maternal deaths by three quarters by 2015.

However, with little change in the overall statistics over the past 20 years, the White Ribbon Alliance and its many celebrity supporters are sending an open letter to the G8 leaders to shine light on the issue and force them to live up to their promise.

They are calling for international aid to be doubled for maternal, newborn and child health, which will help to recruit and train additional health workers.

It is believed that around one million children and between 200,000 – 300,000 mothers could be saved every year with this aid.

‘There is no excuse for letting mums die as they give birth,’ says Sarah Brown on behalf of the White Ribbon Alliance.


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