A Healthy Mother Plus a Healthy Baby Equals a Fighting Chance at a Vibrant and Productive Life – Healthcare Market Review

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounted for 86% (approximately 254,000) of 295,000 women worldwide who died during and after pregnancy and childbirth in 2017. Ninety-four percent (94%) of deaths it occurs in areas with low resources and is preventable (WHO, 2019). Although the maternal mortality rate (MMR) worldwide has decreased somewhat in recent years, maternal health continues to be closely linked to access to quality health services, which are often unavailable to the poor.

Poor maternal health outcomes are most often the consequence of one or more preventable and/or treatable complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Complications that occur before pregnancy are often exacerbated during pregnancy when the mother fails to receive appropriate management. Seventy five percent (75%) of all maternal deaths worldwide occur due to bleeding, sepsis, maternal hypertension, obstructed labor, and unsafe abortion practices (WHO, 2019). Staff shortages, lack of proper equipment and training, and delays in presentation to medical services also contribute to the challenges of maternal health experienced worldwide.

The Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor Global Health are working to understand how they can design a training program that will help reverse trends in maternal mortality. This need is urgently needed for sub-Saharan Africa, which accounts for 67% of maternal deaths worldwide (WHO, 2019). The Baylor School of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology has the only certificate in sub-Saharan Africa, providing residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Baylor Obstetrics and Gynecology has an excellent track record as a dedicated healthcare provider to underserved women in the whole world. Under the leadership of Dr. Jeffrey Paul Wilkinson, who is Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Baylor College of Medicine and one of the world’s leading obstetric surgeons, Baylor College of Medicine and Baylor Global Health hopes to develop a curriculum, which will circumvent access, technology, and knowledge-based barriers to healthy labor and delivery.

In 2017, a partnership between the Baylor College of Medicine Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the Texas Children’s Global Women’s Health Initiative, and the Baylor College of Medicine-Malawi Children’s Foundation led to the groundbreaking of a four-room maternity operating theater in Lilongwe, the capital city of city ​​of Malawi, a small landlocked country in southeast Africa (Benson, 2017). Inspired by the mission to improve the well-being of Malawian women, Dr. Wilkinson is doing heroic work to help Malawian mothers achieve “Freedom from Fistula”—one operation at a time. Dr. Wilkinson has a knack for managing obstetric fistulas, and he is deeply committed to the African continent, where he now lives. An article by Drew et al. (Drew et al., 2016), published in BMC Pregnancy Childbirth demonstrated how the long-term individual and interpersonal psychosocial well-being of Malawian mothers improved dramatically after fistula repair by Dr. Wilkinson and his team.

BCM Obstetrics and Gynecology Team in Malawi
The BCM Obstetrics and Gynecology Team (Right: Dr. Rachel Pope) in Malawi

Maternal health is the basis for a vibrant, productive and thriving society. Quick access to nearby qualified medical care helps pregnant women have healthy pregnancies and give birth to healthy babies. Improving maternal health inequalities is often achieved through expanding quality medical services, improving sanitation and antisepsis, and expanding appropriate patient education and provider training. By increasing the availability of these necessities, which are often limited and costly, mothers and their children are given a fighting chance to lead vibrant and productive lives.


Benson, D. (2017, May 8). Baylor-Malawi partnership to expand midwifery services. Obstetrics and Gynecology. Retrieved from https://www.bcm.edu/news/obstetrics-and-gynecology/baylor-malawi-expands-bstetric-services

Drew, LB, Wilkinson, JP, Nundwe, W., Moyo, M., Mataya, R., Mwale, M., & Tang, JH (2016). Long-term outcomes for women after obstetric fistula repair in Lilongwe, Malawi: a qualitative study. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth, 162.doi:10.1186/s12884-015-0755-1

WHO. (2019). Trends in maternal mortality 2000 to 2017: estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and UN Population Division. Adapted from Geneva: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/793971568908763231/pdf/Trends-in-maternal-mortality-2000-to-2017-Estimates-by-WHO-UNICEF-UNFPA-World-Bank- Group-and-the-United-Nations-Population-Division.pdf