Maternal mortality remains one of the leading causes of death among women of reproductive age in developing countries. Approximately 800 women die while giving life every day. For every woman who dies, at least 20 more suffer injury, infection or disability.  Maternal mortality is one of the oldest and most preventable ongoing medical tragedies, and one that reflects global disparities with 99% of all maternal deaths occurring in developing countries.  Experts say that as many as 90% of the maternal deaths from complications are preventable.  Maternal deaths cluster around labor, delivery and immediately postpartum.  More than 80% of maternal deaths are caused directly by complications such as bleeding, high blood pressure, obstructed labor, and infection. 

The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) seek to address the world’s greatest development priorities through time-bound targets. As stated in the Countdown to 2015 report, “Building a Future for Women and Children,” released in June 2012, the world has made impressive progress towards MDG 4, which calls for a two-thirds reduction in child deaths by 2015, and MDG 5, which calls for a three-quarters reduction in maternal deaths by 2015. However, despite this progress, the world is not on pace to meet either MDG 4 or 5, and both maternal and child health remain inadequately financed.

About Saving Mothers, Giving Life

Saving Mothers, Giving Life (Saving Mothers) was launched with the goal of supporting countries where women are dying at alarming rates during pregnancy and childbirth to aggressively reduce maternal mortality. The effort intends to help mothers during labor, delivery, and the first 24 hours postpartum – the period when two out of every three maternal deaths and 45% of newborn deaths occur.  Work is beginning in countries where maternal mortality rates are disproportionately high, starting in Uganda and Zambia.

The founding partners have pledged more than $200 million USD in financial resources and additional in-kind resources.

Their goal is to support countries to reduce maternal deaths by up to 50 percent in targeted districts in resource-limited countries by accomplishing the following three objectives:

  • Develop models of quality maternal health services through district health network strengthening to achieve maximum, sustainable impact
  • Galvanize the American public to create a domestic constituency to support saving mothers’ lives around the world
  • Engage new public and private partners around the world to co-invest in saving mothers

In addition to saving mothers’ lives around the world, this endeavor will contribute to broader benefits by strengthening health systems and integrating health services that will not only improve the lives of women, but also improve the well-being of their families and community members.

About the Partners

Saving Mothers represents a unique partnership through which the United States Government has enlisted significant support from key public, private and non-governmental players in the global health field and brought them together to reduce maternal mortality.  The global partnership seeks to leverage respective strengths, experience, methodologies, and resources to address strategic gaps for successful implementation of the program. TheSaving Mothers Partnership will actively seek out new partners in order to more rapidly save women’s lives.

Founding partners include:

About U.S. Global Health Initiative

U.S. Global Health Initiative (GHI) will provide leadership and strategic direction to coordinate program implementation, leveraging the strengths across the U.S. Government, particularly building on the U.S. Government’s deep, long-standing relationships with partner countries. Core GHI agencies include the State Department and USAID, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator who work in collaboration with other US Government agencies.    

About Merck for Mothers

Merck for Mothers is an initiative of Merck (known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada), a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck for Mothers is a 10-year, half-billion-dollar effort to create a world where no woman has to die giving life. The initiative willspeed up access to life-saving solutions for women across the globe, develop new technologies, and bring the issue of maternal mortality to the forefront of global consciousness. Merck for Mothers will support Saving Mothers, Giving Life by guiding the strategic direction of the initiative, supporting on-the-ground program implementation and evaluation, working with partners to raise public awareness, and serving as the Secretariat.

About American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), the nation’s leading group of physicians providing healthcare for women, will provide scientific, technical and clinical leadership expertise and leverage its members and other professional associations to support Saving Mothers, Giving Life.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (The College), a 501(c)(3) organization, is a private, voluntary, nonprofit membership organization of approximately 57,000 members, The College strongly advocates for quality healthcare for women, maintains the highest standards of clinical practice and continuing education of its members, promotes patient education, and increases awareness among its members and the public of the changing issues facing women’s healthcare.

About Every Mother Counts

Every Mother Counts (EMC), an advocacy and mobilization campaign to increase education and support for maternal mortality reduction globally, will raise public awareness, advocate for global maternal health, and initiate fundraising efforts.

EMC, a 501(c)(3) organization, seeks to engage new audiences to better understand the challenges and the solutions while encouraging them to take action to improve the lives of girls and women worldwide.

About The Government of Norway

The Government of Norway is improving maternal health, a cornerstone of Norway’s international development policy. Norway will provide co-leadership globally, including by mobilizing international support through partnerships with African leaders and with other donor governments as well as by drawing on related global and regional initiatives such as the UN Secretary-General’s “Every Woman, Every Child.” The Government of Norway will – as a Founding Participant in the Saving Mothers, Giving Life partnership – support program implementation with a particular focus on promoting sustainability.


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Maternal Health 101s