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An international group of maternal and child population health experts are calling on governments to invest in better obstetric surveillance systems, break down barriers in data sharing, and eradicate a culture of blame to help address stagnating maternal mortality rates globally.

The International Network of Obstetric Survey Systems (INOSS), involving researchers from Oxford Population Health’s National Perinatal Epidemiology Unit (NPEU), outlined these calls to action in a commentary piece published today in The Lancet.

The commentary responds to recent UN data which show that improvements in maternal mortality rates have stalled in 133 countries and are getting worse in 17 countries, particularly in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, North America, and sub-Saharan Africa. Women in low- and middle-income countries continue to suffer the greatest burden whilst marginalised groups in high-income countries, such as the United States, are at a disproportionately increased risk.

The commentary calls for three specific actions from governments worldwide:

  1. Investment in the establishment and maintenance of effective and robust enhanced obstetric surveillance systems (EOSS).
  1. Introduction of health-care policies to facilitate and encourage data gathering, linkage, and transfer within existing or newly created legal frameworks.
  1. Implementation of confidential, health-sector-controlled, case-based analyses of maternity care that emphasise learning lessons rather than assigning blame.

Read the full story on the Oxford Population Health website. 

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