Every woman should be able to enjoy healthy motherhood

When Meghan Markle gave birth to a baby boy, the event made headlines everywhere and fans rejoiced that mother and child are doing well.

Such joy owes much to the excellent care that the duchess received – care that is not available to many.

If a woman gives birth in a poor, remote region, without the help of skilled health personnel, the risk that she may die in childbirth is as much as 20 times greater than it is in the developed world, where Meghan is fortunate to live.

Ninety-nine per cent of maternal deaths occur in developing countries, and most could have been prevented with better resources. That such a disparity should continue to exist in the 21st century is unconscionable.

Canada has been a leader in focusing attention and gathering resources to address high maternal mortality, notably through the multibillion-dollar Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. But this funding will run out in 2020, and much remains to be done.

In a few days, Canada will welcome the world’s largest gathering on the health, rights and well-being of girls and women, at the Women Deliver Conference in Vancouver.

I hope that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will prove to his distinguished audience that Canada stands by the promise it made at Muskoka to the women of the world — that every woman should have an equal chance for a healthy and joyful motherhood.

Chitra Ramaswami, Calgary

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