In honor of Mother’s Day, Amnesty International is demanding that the United States Department of Health and Human Services create an Office of Maternal Health to ensure that mothers and mothers-to-be receive “the care that they deserve.” Maternal death rates in the U.S. are higher than 40 other countries, despite the fact the U.S. spends more on health care than any other country, according to the human rights organization.
According to Save the Children “Mothers Index” Norway was at the head of a list for the best countries in which to be a mother. Afghanistan was at the bottom of the list, below several African countries. The U.S. was behind countries such as the Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and European countries such as Croatia and Slovenia.
The report from Save the Children said, “A woman in the United States is more than five times as likely as a woman in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Greece or Italy to die from pregnancy-related causes in her lifetime and her risk of maternal death is nearly 10-fold that of a woman in Ireland.” This report verifies Amnesty’s position.
The Save the Children report went on to say that only 61 percent of children in the U.S. were enrolled in preschool, which places it as the seventh lowest country in this category.
Another fact stated in the report was this: “The United States has the least generous maternity leave policy—both in terms of duration and percent of wages paid—of any wealthy nation.”
Save the Children’s Mary Beth Powers maintains that while the situation in the U.S. needs to improve, mothers in the developing world face greater risks to their health and to the health of their children.
Why did Norway come up on top of this list? According to the Save the Children report it is because women there are well-paid, there is easy access to contraception and Norway has one of the most generous maternity leave policies in the world.
Clearly it is time to do something about the abysmal state of maternal health in this country. Amnesty International has designated this issue as one of its top priorities. Will politicians do the same?