Personal Views

And the band played on…

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 31 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1629
  1. Andrew D Weeks, research fellow in obstetrics and gynaecology
  1. Leeds

    A woman from Sierra Leone has a one in seven chance of dying as a direct result of pregnancy. In Britain it is one in 6000. It is the biggest health differential between rich and poor countries, estimated to kill 3000 women every day. Another 45 million women each year are thought to suffer permanent physical damage from childbirth leading to infertility, faecal and urinary incontinence, and hysterectomy.

    In March I was one of 800 healthcare workers from 78 different countries in Morocco for the First World Congress on Maternal Mortality. The aim was to speak out on behalf of those trapped in poverty who suffer from these preventable problems. Death in pregnancy is not only closely related to the wealth of the country, but also to a woman's position in society. As one delegate put it “this problem does not affect the wives of the politicians in our country. They fly overseas for their antenatal care and delivery.”

    Yet for all the good intentions of the conference organisers, there was a lack of comprehension of the real problems of the developing world and a seeming belief that problems …

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