The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada has been working with experts across Canada to lead the development of an approach to understand and prevent maternal morbidity and mortality in Canada. The goal is to increase awareness of the issues surrounding pregnancy-related morbidities and deaths and to promote change among individuals, healthcare systems, and communities in order to avoid every preventable case of morbidity and mortality and optimize outcomes for women and babies.
The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is a critical measure of a nation’s health, and a key performance indicator of the strength and quality of health care. Canada lags behind other developed countries with respect to monitoring maternal health and identifying preventable cases of mortality.
Maternal mortality is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to maternal health, with estimates of another 75 to 100 women experiencing severe complications (severe maternal morbidities) for every woman who dies as a result of pregnancy.
A call has been issued by Canadian experts for the establishment of a Confidential Enquiry system dedicated to identifying underlying causes of maternal morbidity and mortality, specifically identifying those that are preventable. This aims to improve Canada’s maternal morbidity and mortality statistics, and more importantly, generate system and practice information required to understand how severe morbidity and deaths might be prevented in the future, inform provincial/territorial and national networks and identify trends and emerging issues.
Confidential enquiry into all maternal morbidities and maternal deaths will: provide accurate prevalence rates, determine trends, identify priorities for recommendations and report on the effectiveness of interventions. Identifying factors contributing to prevention and incorporating them into education and training programs for healthcare providers and pregnant women will not only save the lives of pregnant/post-partum women but will also mitigate maternal morbidities and improve perinatal outcomes. Without understanding the current state of health and risk to Canada’s pregnant/post-partum population, we cannot characterize risks and/or protective factors affecting pregnancy outcome and long-term health of mothers and their babies.
Programs funded by the Canadian Foundation for Women’s Health: The Kitty Carr Fund, The Lalonde Bursary Endowment Fund and The Dawn Walker Grant all support research, education and initiatives directed towards the reduction of maternal morbidity and mortality in Canada. Their ultimate goals are to improve access to the highest quality of care and improve outcomes for mothers, their babies and their families.