Wednesday, July 15, 2009

[EQ] Dying To Give Birth: Fighting Maternal Mortality In Peru

Dying To Give Birth: Fighting Maternal Mortality In Peru

Nellie Bristol,a freelance journalist in health policy, based in Falls Church, Virginia.
Report from the Field is the product of a partnership between
Health Affairs and Kaiser Health News, a project of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Health Affairs, July-August  - Volume 28, no. 4 (2009) - - Delivering On Global Health  Issue


            Available online at:

“…..A stronger systems approach would greatly benefit Peru, a middle-income nation with annual per capita gross domestic product (GDP) of $8,400—about one-sixth that of the United States.8 Health services, at least in rural areas almost exclusively served by the national and provincial governments, are hampered by chronic shortages of trained personnel, equipment, and supplies. For maternity care, there’s also another factor: discrimination. "It’s very clear that there’s a confluence of gender discrimination and ethnic discrimination that... conspire[s] against [indigenous] women," said Alicia Ely Yamin, an instructor in law and public health at Harvard School of Public Health who has studied maternal mortality extensively, particularly in Peru.

Yamin points to contrasts between Peru and countries in sub-Saharan African. In the latter, poverty is more universal and maternal deaths more evenly distributed; in the former, the problem is more regionalized and focused on rural, indigenous populations far from the cosmopolitan capital, Lima. "Attention to education, services, and health care to these overwhelmingly indigenous rural poor populations is just very, very low," Yamin says. That shows up in the statistics: for example, the maternal death rate is 52 per 100,000 in Lima. But it’s almost seven times that—361 per 100,000—in the hardest-hit region, Puno, a highland province in southeastern Peru whose capital, also called Puno, sits on the shores of Lake Titicaca.9

In addition to a general lack of services, language and culture are also barriers to good maternity care. Among Peru’s poorest inhabitants are the nearly 47 percent of the population whose first language could be the indigenous Quechua, Aymara, or one of several others, rather than the country’s other official language, Spanish.10 ……” [author]


 *      *     *

This message from the Pan American Health Organization, PAHO/WHO, is part of an effort to disseminate
information Related to: Equity; Health inequality; Socioeconomic inequality in health; Socioeconomic
health differentials; Gender; Violence; Poverty; Health Economics; Health Legislation; Ethnicity; Ethics;
Information Technology - Virtual libraries; Research & Science issues.  [DD/ KMS Area]

“Materials provided in this electronic list are provided "as is". Unless expressly stated otherwise, the findings
and interpretations included in the Materials are those of the authors and not necessarily of The Pan American
Health Organization PAHO/WHO or its country members”.

PAHO/WHO Website

Follow us on Twitter:

Equity List - Archives - Join/remove:



    IMPORTANT: This transmission is for use by the intended recipient and it may contain privileged, proprietary or confidential information. If you are not the intended recipient or a person responsible for delivering this transmission to the intended recipient, you may not disclose, copy or distribute this transmission or take any action in reliance on it. If you received this transmission in error, please notify us immediately by email to, and please dispose of and delete this transmission. Thank you.