Médecins Sans Frontières Australia
Médecins Sans Frontières Australia (Doctors Without Borders / MSF)
Maternal death: a preventable tragedy
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How can I help?

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We rely on the kindness of people like you to provide emergency medical assistance to men, women and children in urgent need. Please make a donation to help Médecins Sans Frontières' patients, even in the most challenging situations.
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Please tell your friends about our work helping women deliver their babies safely. By taking a moment to share this page on Facebook, tweet it, or email it to your friends, you can speak out about this preventable tragedy.

Why your support matters so much

Margaret Bell© Benoit Finck/MSF
"Médecins Sans Frontières needs to be there to provide healthcare, because in a lot of countries, the government either can't or won't.

And the wonderful thing is that in our hospitals women are getting quality care, they are getting complications identified, and they can receive the appropriate treatment.

We are very lucky we have donors that support us. Because we couldn't do this without them."
- Médecins Sans Frontières nurse and midwife Margaret Bell.

Please donate now so we can keep delivering medical assistance to people who need us.

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Why do women die during childbirth?

A pregnant woman is examined by a Médecins Sans Frontières doctor in Sierra Leone.
A pregnant woman is examined by a Médecins Sans Frontières doctor in Sierra Leone.
© Maya Terenina/MSF
The four main causes of maternal mortality during childbirth are the same all over the world:
  • Haemorrhage
  • Sepsis (infection)
  • Eclampsia (a high blood pressure disorder)
  • Obstructed labour
Simple and inexpensive medical technology to prevent and treat these conditions has been around for decades.

Yet, according to the World Health Organisation, more than 350,000 women around the world still die every year from these complications – 99% of them in developing countries.

And tragically, most of these women die simply because they lack access to affordable and effective healthcare that most women in Australia have come to expect.

Life-threatening complications

A woman with complications is rushed to hospital, supported by a Médecins Sans Frontières midwife.
A woman with complications is rushed to hospital, supported by a Médecins Sans Frontières midwife. © Yasuyoshi Chiba
When women are unable to access skilled birth attendants, essential drugs and life-saving equipment during childbirth, these otherwise treatable complications can quickly lead to death.

A post-birth haemorrhage, for example, can kill a healthy woman within two hours if left untreated. Without rapid medical assistance, eclampsia can lead to seizures, coma and death.



Access to medical assistance is vital

Médecins Sans Frontières attends up to 150,000 births and gives hundreds of thousands of antenatal consultations each year. But with so many women still dying during childbirth, we know we need to do more.

Like all our emergency medical programs, our work in this area depends on people like you. By making a donation today, you'll help us deliver medical assistance to people who urgently need us.

Next: Find out how we prevent maternal mortality