Maternal mortality is defined as the death of a woman while pregnant, during delivery or within 42 days of delivery or the termination of a pregnancy.
But what is the economic cost of these deaths to a family, a community or a country?
According to a 2014 report of a survey conducted in three subcounties — Gem, Rarieda and Siaya — families that experienced a maternal death spent approximately a third of their total annual consumption expenditure to obtain care for a wife, mother, sister or aunt who faced serious complications during pregnancy and childbirth.
The cost was between three and six times more than that spent by households in which a woman gave birth safely.
The women who died had contributed an average of 61 hours of household work each week and 88 per cent of the affected families reported that the loss of this contribution reduced other family members’ ability to provide earnings for the household.
This often resulted in surviving children being withdrawn from school because the family could no longer afford school fees. The performance of children who remained in school often suffered due to increased household duties in addition to grief over the loss of their mother, according to the report.
The study demonstrates the devastating impact of these preventable deaths on the well-being of families, the survival of newborns, the health and opportunities of surviving children, and the economic productivity of communities.
The findings show that when a woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth-related causes, her illness and death begins a chain of loss that harms her children’s health, education, and future opportunities; deepens household poverty; disrupts the life of her family; and devastates her loved ones with grief. The economic and human costs of maternal death are truly a price too high to bear.
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