What if someone told you that for the next 9 days, every single woman who gives birth—no matter where on Earth she lives—would die during her delivery?
Obviously you would be horrified. That’s 3.3 million women. You would want the world to do everything possible to save them.
Of course (and thankfully), this is just a hypothetical example. But the fact is, over the next 15 years, we actually can save that many women, by investing more to keep them healthy while giving birth:
It’s true that 15 years is a lot longer than a few days—but morally it’s no different. We should do what we can to protect women during childbirth.
These numbers come from a study published in The Lancet and funded by our foundation that examined what’s possible if the world steps up its investments in the health of the poor. For maternal mortality, that means doing things like giving more women access to family planning and safe delivery, plus expanding pre- and post-natal care.
Later this summer I’ll write about the level of investment required. But the study’s conclusion is clear: With the right investments, we can close the health gap between rich and poor countries—meaning that every country in the world will have child-mortality rates that are as low as the rate in America or the United Kingdom in 1980. That would be one of the humanity’s greatest accomplishments ever.
Leaders from around the world will be especially focused on these issues in September, when the United Nations adopts a set of goals regarding what should be done for the poor over the next 15 years. Those goals will be the follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals, which the U.N. adopted in 2000 and which did an amazing job of focusing the world on key metrics of human welfare.
I’m optimistic that the new goals can accomplish two key things: Bring more focus to the fight to improve the health of the world’s poor, and draw in more funding. If we get this right, we can make unprecedented progress by 2030.
If you want to learn more about the U.N.’s goals for 2030 and what you can do to help, I’d encourage you to become a Global Citizen.
If you’d like to read more about this topic, you might want to check out this piece I wrote for Quartz.