This article comes from Ophelia Dahl, the co-founder of Partners In Health, Paul Farmers org. The excerpt describes the need for local, life-saving medical care for women and that it’s expensive — but not nearly as expensive as letting them die.
But over 350,000 women still die every year in Haiti, Malawi, and other developing countries, because they can’t afford or can’t reach the care they need. They die because they do not have access to … a network of care that reaches right into the villages where the most vulnerable women live, that ensures they deliver their babies at health centers with the help of a skilled midwife or doctor, and that can refer and transport them to a hospital with surgical facilities in an emergency.
None of this is rocket science. Doing all of it isn’t cheap or easy — except when compared to the cost of inaction.
How do you quantify the cost of more than 350,000 women’s lives a year? Measured in moral and human terms, the value of even a single woman’s life is incalculable, compounded by the fact that when mothers die in childbirth, their babies often die as well, and their older children are left orphaned and at high risk.
For those who prefer to measure costs in dollars and cents, my friend and fellow co-founder of Partners In Health, Paul Farmer, recently co-authored a paper analyzing the costs and benefits of the most expensive piece of the necessary network of care — surgical services to provide Caesarean delivery for obstructed labor. The conclusion: the economic benefits of saving women from death and disabling injuries would be six times greater than the costs of providing surgical care.
Other studies have shown that doubling global investments in family planning and pregnancy-related care — from $11.8 billion to $24.6 billion — would prevent more than 250,000 maternal deaths a year.
If you do the math, the increased investment amounts to the cost of about six weeks of the war in Afghanistan. That seems a small price to pay to make motherhood as much an occasion for celebration in Haiti and Malawi as it is in the United States.