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The Maternal Mortality Debate

Maternal mortality is perceived to be one of the major concerns of various organizations and individual researchers. The issue is still regarded as debatable, as some specialists believe that this problem is not as severe as some notable health and development-related studies portray it. The World Health Organization (WHO) regards the mortality rates of women giving birth to children to be “unacceptably high” (WHO, 2019). The WHO is an organization that is recognized internationally and is aimed at improving global health through research and cooperation. The main argument used by the WHO is the statistical data, which states that 295 000 women died from this issue in 2017 alone (WHO, 2019). Moreover, maternal mortality can be stopped as it is prompted by preventable causes, including infections. Furthermore, the study by Jagadeeshan et al. (2019) states that the issue is “one of the leading causes of death in women of reproductive age” (p. 450). The research was conducted by Ph.D. and Masters specialists in biology and psychology, which makes their input credible. Thus, various organizations and independent researchers believe that maternal mortality is an essential issue.

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In contrast, some scholars and analysts argue that maternal mortality might be a relatively small and limited problem area as far as global health goes. Additionally, scholars have found that the measurements used to count cases of maternal mortality have changed over time. A paper by Storeng and Béhague (2017) found that many models of estimating maternal mortality used mathematical models and surveys instead of numerical data. This is not to say that maternal mortality is not an issue; rather, global development resources are limited, and current efforts to measure maternal mortality rates may overestimate deaths (Storeng & Béhague, 2017). A practical example of this is a 2016 study conducted in the United States, regarding maternal mortality rates. The study discovered that, while there was an increase in U.S. mortality rates, this could have been caused by changes in mortality rate measurement systems (MacDorman et al., 2016). Both peer-reviewed studies were conducted by accredited scholars using available and credible data. Overall, some scholars believe that maternal mortality is not adequately measured and thereby must be better understood before primary international resources are spent on combating it.

After considering both sides’ arguments, I have concluded that, despite some issues with measurement, maternal mortality is a critical development topic. Maternal mortality is a solvable issue as many of the causes of death are preventable, indicating that development resources will not go to waste (WHO, 2019). Furthermore, the arguments regarding measurement did highlight an important issue; however, it leaves open the possibility that maternal mortality is potentially underestimated. It is vital to comprehend that even those who do not see maternal mortality as an essential topic do not dispute that it is widespread. Regardless of the actual death rates, maternal mortality is both critical and preventable, which indicates that it deserves to be the focus of some global development initiatives. The 2019 study by Jagadeeshan et al. found that maternal mortality is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age. Such findings highlight the relevance of this issue and the far-reaching consequences of solving it. To sum up, I believe that maternal mortality should remain a global development focus, particularly in developing countries where it reinforces the gaps between genders.


Jagadeeshan, S., Gomes, A. K., & Singh, R. S. (2019). Mate choice and the persistence of maternal mortality. Reproductive Sciences, 26(4), 450–458.

MacDorman, M. F., Declercq, E., Cabral, H., & Morton, C. (2016). Recent increases in the U.S. maternal mortality rate: Disentangling trends from measurement issues. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 128(3), 447–455.

Storeng, K. T., & Béhague, D. P. (2017). “Guilty until proven innocent”: The contested use of maternal mortality indicators in global health. Critical Public Health, 27(2), 163–176.

WHO. (2019). Maternal mortality.

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