Maternal health

Shantibo Bohara (right), a female health worker, examines Shushila Dham who is expecting her second child, in the village of Khanidanda, near Dhangadhi, Nepal

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Pregnancy and childbirth shouldn’t be a game of chance

  • Every two minutes, a woman somewhere in the world dies from complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
  • In Europe, a woman’s lifetime risk of death due to childbirth is one in 2,400; in sub-Saharan Africa it is one in 16.

Maternal health infographic

We should be outraged. And we should be doing something about it.

The majority of these deaths can be prevented if women have access to antenatal advice and support, trained midwives and birth attendants, life-saving treatments, and well-equipped health clinics and hospitals.

CARE works to ensure women affected by conflict or disasters have access to the health care they need.

And we work to ensure women in poor communities have access to high-quality maternal health services – such as through our health partnership with GSK, which has trained almost 27,000 community health workers to provide health services to women in rural communities in nine countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chad, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal and Togo.

Or our work in Bihar, India, where mortality rates for mothers and their infants are among the highest in the country – and where we've harnessed the power of mobile technology to ensure more mothers get better access to healthcare services. Watch this short video to find out more:

Women’s rights

But receiving better health care and health knowledge is only one side of the coin. Women must also be able to exercise control over their bodies and live within families that support their rights to a healthy life free from violence.

So we also work with community leaders, women and health workers to understand and address the reasons for the high maternal death rate. We challenge social and gender norms so women can make decisions for their own health and well-being.

I find that when I talk to the men, they begin to take a greater interest in their wife’s pregnancy. Sometimes they stop me on the road and ask ‘My wife is pregnant. What shall I do?’ – Female community health worker after CARE training, India