Health is a human right!

Gender equity and education are key ingredients for improving maternal health. In most developing countries girls and women are the poorest and most vulnerable parts of the population because of entrenched inequalities. Health is a human right and effective and simple interventions can save a lot of lives. For the individual woman, poverty and gender inequality are key factors affecting demand for Health care services. Their individual autonomy, ability to make decisions (e.g., to seek health care, engage in social interactions, move freely outside the home), control over vital resources (e.g., income and assets, time, etc.), and gender-based violence very often lead to bad health.

According to World Bank estimates, the maternal mortality rate can be brought down by 74 percent just through interventions that provide access to skilled delivery and emergency obstetric care. However, putting services in place will not in itself achieve results. In order to be effective in reducing maternal mortality, these services need to be both acceptable and accessible to the women who need them.

In order to organize sustainable well functioning health care for women and children globally, we need good midwifery leaders. Good leaders combine management skills of planning, monitoring and evaluation, organization and implementing. The leaders focus should be on priorities, aligning staff and stakeholders, mobilization of available resources, and inspiriting their teams to commit to results. This will improved work climate, increased management systems, and increased capacity to respond to meet needs in the population and to change old systems where women’s and children’s needs are ignored. It is a misconception that medical professionals do not need to learn management skills, people at all levels need leadership and management skills to increase commitment, effectiveness and accountability, among health teams. Leadership enables others to face challenges and achieve measurable results. We must close the gap between knowledge and action in public health through leadership and management to get better maternal health results.

We also need to disseminate new knowledge through research. However research means nothing if the results of advanced research in medicine, caring science, economy, law, legislation, leadership etc. are not implemented at a level were healthcare workers, leaders and others can take part of it.


Ingela Wiklund
President, The Swedish Association of Midwives
Expert at the World Bank’s Civil Society Consultative Group for Health, Nutrition, and Population