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Foreign aid reflects lack of concern for mothers

Authors: Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health, and Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow and Director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative; Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program
August 8, 2006
Toronto Star

Every day, some 1,400 women die from problems related to pregnancy and childbirth. More than half a million mothers die worldwide every year, and 9 million are severely disabled, just for giving birth.

While many other health problems in the world are witnessing remarkable breakthroughs, maternal mortality remains persistently high in some parts of the world, notably sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The reasons are many: HIV infection, lack of access to life-saving C-sections, post-delivery bacterial infections, the side effects of prior—usually illegal—botched abortions, lack of prenatal care, inferior nutrition, child marriage resulting in teen pregnancy, and simply too many pregnancies.

Hundreds of millions of dollars are directed to saving the world’s babies, infants and small children, but only paltry sums are dedicated to ensuring those children will have mothers to raise them. This extraordinary imbalance in philanthropic grants, attention from humanitarian and relief organizations, and foreign aid commitments from the U.S. and other G-8 governments reflects a remarkable lack of concern for the survival of women. As rash as that statement may seem, it is reflected in the data, both in terms of where women are at greatest risk, and how donors are spending their foreign aid dollars.

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