Health experts have cited that lives are being lost everyday due to women giving birth in unsanitary conditions, unsafe water and lack of hygienic equipment in hospitals. Lack of these basic facilities in developing countries lead to loss of precious lives every day, says a report published in the science journal PLOS One.

The report tells how nearly 300,000 women lost their lives due to pregnancy and complications during childbirth, most of them from developing countries. A greater percentage of these deaths were due to “lack of clean water, poor hygiene and sanitation. In fact 38 percent of healthcare facilities in 54 poor countries continue to lack proper sanitation, which puts women at high risk of death. Despite the concerted global efforts for the past 15 years to diminish maternal mortality, the report shows that casualty rate remains 14 times higher in developing countries when compared to developed countries.”

Dr. Yael Velleman, Senior Policy Analyst on Health and Sanitation at Water Aid, said, “It has been known since Victorian times that hygiene water and good hygiene in birth are highly important. Yet today 10 of thousands of mothers will be giving birth in locations where doctors and midwives, if present, do not have clean water available. The process of giving life should not mean excessively risking death.”

she further said, “The health agencies and governments have motivated women to give birth to child in hospitals and clinics to give them a better chance of surviving complications, but if those atmosphere are dirty, without clean water, basic toilets and a way to keep patients, beds and instruments clean, women are reluctant to seek them out for fear of exposing themselves and their babies to dangerous infection,”

The report has been drawn up by experts from the charity WaterAid, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, the World Health Organization and other global health bodies.

Shocked by the findings of this report, researchers are urging the government agencies as well as NGOs towards the pressing need to provide clean water and sanitation.

“I think it’s a terrible tragedy that women still die during childbirth as a result of the absence of these very basic things being in place, particularly within heath facilities,” said Oliver Cumming, an environmental health expert at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and lead author of the study.

A call for action is being issued for governments all over the world to draw attention on the need for access to clean and safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene on Dec. 15 by various agencies including WHO, UNFPA, SHARE Research Consortium and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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