Sunday, March 28, 2010

Alarming Rate of Maternal Deaths in the U.S.

You've probably listened to or participated in the highly polarized U.S. health care debate. While many Americans are more concerned about who will pay for the $940 billion health care bill that is designed to save the lives of millions of struggling Americans, human rights activists and organizations worldwide are alarmed by the broken health care system and the alarming rate of maternal deaths in the U.S. It is no secret that the U.S. health care system engineers the death of millions of Americans from pregnancy-related complications, child birth complications and other preventable diseases. America might be the richest country on the planet, but the alarming rate of maternal deaths in the U.S. is not very different from the rate of maternal deaths registered in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Human rights group - Amnesty International, in a recent report - Deadly Delivery: The Maternity Health Care Crisis in the USA, issued on 5 March 2010 revealed that women in the U.S. face a greater risk of dying from pregnancy-related complications than women in 40 other countries. The report notes with dismay, that a woman in the U.S. has a five times greater chance of dying in child birth than a woman in Greece, three times greater chance of dying in child birth than a woman in Spain and four times greater chance of dying than a woman in Germany. Even more alarming is the fact that more than two women die DAILY in the U.S. from pregnancy-related complications. Yes! It's that bad!

At this point, you must be outraged by the aforementioned statistics, but the prevalence of discrimination in the U.S. health care system is even more outrageous and dumbfounding. Minority women - Native Americans, African Americans, Immigrants and women who speak little English face a greater risk of dying in child birth and pregnancy related complications. It's worth highlighting that black women are nearly four times likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women - in America.

The report by Amnesty International documents the case of a 33 years old African-American woman - Inamarie Stith-Rouse. She arrived at a hospital in Boston Massachusetts in June 2003, pregnant. She underwent an emergency cesarean section and later went into a coma. She died four days later; living behind a healthy baby girl. Why did she die?

Her husband - Andre Rouse told Amnesty International that:
"She started to complain of shortness of breath. I couldn't find the doctor. They kept paging her but she wasn't around. The oxygen machine kept beeping.... No one was taking it seriously..."

Andre told Amnesty International that he felt race played a part in the hospital staff's lack of response.

White women in the U.S. have a mortality rate of 9.5 per 100,000 pregnancies and African-American women - 32.7 per 100,000 pregnancies. As reported by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

What are your thoughts? Do African-Americans and other minority groups face discrimination in the health care system in the U.S.? Have you faced any form of discrimination?

Does gender, race, ethnicity, immigration or other status affect access to health care in the U.S.?

You'd agree that the alarming rate of maternity deaths in the U.S. and the alleged discrimination in the health care system is a cause for concern. America is purportedly the leader of the "free world" and the government has an obligation to ensure quality health care - without discrimination of any kind, to all.

The U.S health care system has been a failure for decades; this explains why you should welcome the historic health care reform bill that was passed by the U.S Congress. Many have kicked against the bill, but have no doubt - the bill (which is now law) would go a long way to guarantee the right to life and health care for millions of struggling Americans. Perhaps it will also reduce the alarming rate of maternal deaths in the U.S.

By the way, "socialized" health care systems like those in place in Scandinavian countries have proven to be highly successful. Don't you think?

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