Marleen Temmerman: ‘two airplanes per day filled with dead women’

The edition of 1 July of the series on the Millennium Development Goals of the Flemish newspaper ‘De Morgen’ was dedicated to maternal mortality. Marleen Temmerman pointed at the fact that, despite good progress, de goal of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters was not yet achieved. There are still 300,000 women per year who die of complications during pregnancy or delivery. This is the equivalent of two airplanes per day.  ‘Hygiene, material, people and sufficient blood are lacking still too often says Marleen. There is a sharp contrast between rich and poor: in developing countries maternal mortality is fourteen times higher than in Europe. Also within developing countries there are considerable discrepancies between urban and rural settings. Many girls become pregnant at too young age, with higher risks of complications. Women are not always allowed to visit a doctor on their own, and hospital deliveries are still too often surrounded by taboo. Still Marleen thinks that the millennium development goal on maternal mortality was useful: ‘it has resulted in unprecedented mobilisation of attention and resources. And with results. It is indeed less than hoped for, but we know now what works and we have to continue our efforts’.