Each year, more than 563,000 women worldwide die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth – that’s one woman every minute. Many more survive but suffer ill health and disability as a result of complications. At least 80% of all maternal results result from 5 complications that are well understood and can be readily treated using existing medical and surgical interventions that are relatively inexpensive:
In addition, there are an estimated 4 million neonatal deaths each year, accounting for almost 40% of all deaths in children under 5 years of age. More than 75% of these deaths occur in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The health of the neonate is closely related to that of the mother, and the majority of deaths in the first month of life could also be prevented if interventions were in place to ensure good maternal health.
In 2006, the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM)  and the RCOG developed a standardised 3-day ‘skills and drills’ training package in Life Saving Skills – Essential Obstetric Care, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) manual Integrated management for pregnancy and childbirth. The package was developed in collaboration with the WHO’s department for Making Pregnancy Safer  and in collaboration with a wide, multidisciplinary group of experts (including midwives, obstetricians, paediatricians, public health specialists and anaesthetists) with extensive practical experience of maternal and newborn health in resource-poor settings, as well as educational methods.
To reduce maternal mortality, it’s important that all women have access to maternal healthcare services, particularly skilled attendance at birth and timely access to essential (or emergency) obstetric care (EOC) when an obstetric complication occurs.
There are two levels of EOC: basic and comprehensive.
The Department for International Development (DFID)  has awarded the LSTM Maternal and Newborn Health Unit c.£20 million for its Making it Happen programme, which sends experts from the north-western countries of the globe to some of the world’s poorest countries to support, monitor and evaluate health services to lead to better care for women.
If you have any questions, or need more information, please email the Maternal and Newborn Health Unit at LSTM .