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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Day One at the Global Maternal Health Conference

By Pam Barnes, President and CEO, EngenderHealth

What a thrill it is to be part of the Global Maternal Health Conference 2010, along with nearly 700 of the world’s foremost experts in maternal health hailing from 55 countries. I’m so proud that EngenderHealth is home to the Maternal Health Task Force, and that together with the Public Health Foundation of India, we are co-hosting this meeting—the first global conference dedicated exclusively to maternal health.

Today kicked-off with a dynamic opening by the Health Minister of India and followed by a panel of experts in research, policy and academia discussing the maternal mortality estimates, their implications, and what lessons we can learn to truly make progress towards improving maternal health. We were challenged by Wendy Graham to learn as much from our successes as our failures and we should all take that to heart. And it isn’t just about the numbers. It’s how we use the numbers to make change. As health economist Gita Sen also aptly reminded us, when discussing estimates, improving maternal morbidity is an equally important goal: For every woman who dies during pregnancy or childbirth, 10 to 30 women suffer long term disability, including a devastating condition such as obstetric fistula.

The lively conversations taking place throughout the sessions make it crystal clear that we are without doubt, at a unique moment in time. I say unique because whether we live in Rwanda, China, Brazil or southern India, all of us (those at the conference and all of you who are joining us via live streaming) have come together to exchange knowledge, experience, and ideas to move the needle towards realizing maternal health. Being here with so many creative minds and passionate professionals is truly energizing. It is palpable. And this energy is vital for the field. It is vital for the world’s women.

Stay up to date with the conference happenings! Follow the Maternal Health Task Force and EngenderHealth on Twitter: @MHTF and @EngenderHealth. The conference hashtag is #GMHC2010.

For more posts about the Global Maternal Health Conference, click here.