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Last updated: 26 october, 2009 - 13:47 GMT

Maternal mortality: why so many mothers die giving birth

Hamlin Hospital in Addis Ababa

The Hamlin Hospital in Ethiopia treats 2,800 women every year

Health ministers from around the world have been meeting in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, to discuss ways to stop hundreds of thousands of women dying needlessly during pregnancy and childbirth every year.

The meeting, organised by the United Nations Population Fund, aims to harness political will and money to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by two-thirds by 2015.

The coordinator of the UN's Maternal Health Fund, Dr Yves Bergevin, said gender inequality was a root cause of the problem.

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Pakistan:

In Pakistan, every year as many as 30,000 women die in childbirth.

Almost all of these deaths could be avoided.

Jill McGivering has been to Sindh Province, and reports first from the rural areas where she met a family devastated by women dying while giving birth.

An old lady in Sindh province, Dhaanani, holds her sickly great grandson - her daughter and her granddaughter both died in childbirth

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You can hear more from Jill McGivering in Pakistan on Thursday's click Assignment.



Ethiopia:

an Ethiopian mother at the Hamlin hospital in Addis Ababa

Zeinat's fistula tear was successfully repaired

The Hamlin hospital in Addis Ababa treats women suffering from obstetric fistula.

This distressing condition, which leaves women incontinent, is caused by internal tearing during labour or the actual emergence of the child.

Pascale Harter's report contains material which some listeners may find distressing.

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India:

Indian health minister Dinesh Trivedi

Mr Trivedi feels literacy and poverty are linked to maternal mortality

According to India's Human Rights Law Network, an estimated 74% of maternal deaths could be averted if women had access to interventions for preventing or treating pregnancy and childbirth complications.

After the conference, Pascale spoke to the Indian health minister, Dinesh Trivedi.

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Egypt:

It looks as though many countries will struggle to meet the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the number of maternal mortality deaths by 75% by 2015.

However, there are some exceptions.

Egypt, for example, does seem to be making progress, as the BBC's Christian Fraser reports from Cairo.

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First broadcast 26-27 October 2009

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