Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Raji and Lakshmi, my two grandmothers

On Mother's Day in recent years, I find myself thinking about maternal mortality, maternal health and women's health in general.

This is a photo of two women whose genes I bear.

Raji died in childbirth after giving birth to her seventh child. She was smart, gifted, meticulous and loving. She did not see any of her children grow up, the oldest must have been about ten when she died. She herself was in her early thirties.

Lakshmi went through many pregnancies, carrying some to term, losing children at different stages. Through her life, she fasted and when she wasn't fasting, ate after her family like many Indian women, eating what was left when they had their fill. She lived longer than her friend, but the physical strain of her life left her nervous system very fragile in her last years.

So many decades have passed. That we still discuss universal access to good health care as a desirable social end, suggests that not enough has changed. How very sad!

See: Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2008, Estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and The World Bank, 2010.

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