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Why are Mexican women dying from childbirth?

The pandemic has had a wide range of consequences for health-care systems all across the world. One of these was a 60% rise in the number of women dying during childbirth in Mexico. However, first…

Even in the United States, women die during or immediately after giving birth far more frequently than you may think. For example, in New Jersey, roughly 26 women die for every 100,000 births, making it one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the country. These rates are connected to a lack of access to care, such as prenatal and postnatal checkups, which can detect abnormalities before they become life-threatening.

In 2021, when the epidemic was at its peak in Mexico, the maternal death rate was around three times that of New Jersey. Things had been getting better before Covid. However, more than 2,000 women have died in Mexico as a result of the pandemic since it began.

Reporter Kelsey Butler discovered that issues were already simmering prior to March 2020. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico had resolved to rethink the country’s health-care system in order to make it universally accessible.

But the strategy encountered problems, and by the time the pandemic hit Mexico’s hospitals, it wasn’t working properly.

Then Mexico made a choice that would harm almost everybody suffering from a condition other than Covid: it converted some hospitals into Covid-only hospitals. That meant that if you went to your local hospital with a pregnancy issue, they might just turn you away. If you already lived far away from a hospital, as Kelsey did on the rural parts of the Yucatán Peninsula, you might find yourself much further away.

When you add in the fact that pregnant women may be terrified of contracting Covid if they visit a hospital, you have the potential for small health issues to become serious ones.

This isn’t simply a pandemic or a Mexico tale, though. For every 1,000 births in the United States, there are approximately 15 midwives or doctors. Other high-income nations with lower maternal mortality rates, such as Sweden or Australia, have roughly five times that. In a rush, overworked health care personnel can make mistakes or overlook important details. There may be fewer check-ins before and during pregnancy if there are fewer caregivers. That is, assuming women have any access to care.

According to research, fixing the global shortage of midwives by 2035 will avert 280,000 lives every year. There are several plans in the United States to address this issue. Nurses visit new parents at home for a wellness check for both mom and baby, according to a program launched in New Jersey. Florida, Maryland, and Minnesota are among the states that reimburse patients for doulas who give emotional and nonmedical assistance before, during, and after pregnancy.

Meanwhile, Kelsey adds that, as the pandemic fades, things are starting to look a little better for expectant mothers in Mexico.

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