Why Health Care Reform Is Needed (ACA of 2010): Moms And Babies Are At “Appalling” Risk, In The US

Merck is bringing its developing world maternity initiatives to the US. That is both wonderful — and terrifying.

How can it be that pregnancy related deaths have doubled in the United States since 1990? I would point directly to the reduced access to affordable health care — particularly in the lower income strata of the US population. [Recall that the US is the most expensive place on Earth to give birth. That itself is a crime, given the plainly sub-standard job we are doing of keeping moms and babies alive.]

But, no, all I’ll now suggest — is that Mr. Frazier is to be applauded for having the courage to talk openly about a national disgrace. And — more importantly — to do something about it. Something that is already working in Uganda and India. That alone should be a sobering call — to those who still oppose health care reform. From Reuters, then, a bit:

. . . .”As Americans, we simply should not accept that 46 countries have lower rates” of reported maternal mortality, said Merck Chief Executive Ken Frazier. The fact that U.S. pregnancy-related deaths have nearly doubled since 1990 is “appalling” and “something we ought to be ashamed of,” he said.

“Given how sophisticated medical care is in this country, I think most Americans would be astonished” that almost 900 women die each year as a result of pregnancy or childbirth and 50,000 have close calls, Frazier said. . . .

The U.S. drugmaker launched the $500 million global program in 2011 to reduce pregnancy-related deaths, focusing on India, Uganda and other poor countries with only rudimentary healthcare systems. . . .

However, pregnancy-related deaths in the United States have risen from 7.2 per 100,000 live births in 1987 to 17.8 per 100,000 in 2009 (the latest year with reliable data), according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The rate among African-American women is more than triple that of white women: 35.6 versus 11.7 deaths per 100,000 live births. . . .

I applaud the US roll-out of a great initiative; I cringe that we need it so desperately, here.

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