Maternal Mortality — A US perspective

Afro Health Initiative
3 min readJul 25, 2021

Written by Nathalie Diadhiou in April 2021, a volunteer writer for AHI

Due to racism and other socio-economic factors on a global scale, the black woman has the highest mortality rate unlike other ethnicities based on statistics gathered by the CDC [1].

During slavery, it was discovered that white scientists used black women as guinea pigs to test procedures and tools to implement the latest innovative advancements without cautiously aiding and protecting black women who were at the mercy of their slave owners. Without the use of anaesthesia or other pain relievers, women were mistreated and mishandled which led to high mortality rates in the name of “research” or “science” [2].

Fast forward to the modern-day, hospitals still have the highest mortality rates among black women in the nation. Many black women die during or immediately after childbirth one of the reasons being, medical professionals assume that black women can handle more pain than other races. Although black women request just as much medical attention as their other race counterparts. Preeclampsia and pulmonary embolisms are listed as two of the more prominent reasons why women of colour of having complications during pregnancy [3]. Although the United States has state of the art technology to aid women during labour and birth, the lack of support and care from the medical staff makes the birthing experience of black women very traumatizing and often fatal.

Crossing over the Atlantic Ocean into the continent of Africa, there‘s been a noticeable decrease in the mortality rate among pregnant women due to new advanced technology and more access to medical facilities on the continent [4]. Thanks to the modernization of hospital equipment, statistics indicate that West and Central Africa has seen a significant drop in deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth among women from the years 2000–2017 by 38 percent from 342 deaths to 211 deaths per 100,000 live births. Although there has been an overall global decline in deaths because of some more modern efforts to track and aid a woman’s pregnancy journey, an article by UNICEF still indicates that African women are dying at a more rapid rate in poverty-stricken countries due to lack of access and fast-acting procedures to save moms and their unborn children [4]. From infections to birthing complications, the list goes on and on regarding a woman's pregnancy journey and what obstacles she faces when birthing life.

Afro Health Initiative

Afrocentric brain gain​ platform engaging Africa’s diaspora for healthcare development