Maternal mortality is a complex social phenomenon resulting from huge
health system failures and structural patterns of discrimination against
women. Most of the women who die during pregnancy or childbirth are poor
and have limited or no access to adequate healthcare services. Almost
all of these deaths are preventable. Despite a number of African and
Asian countries having made significant headway, more than halving their
levels of maternal mortality since 1990, these two regions together
still account for 85% of maternal mortality in the world. In contrast,
in Latin America the average maternal mortality ratio is relatively low
at 80 deaths per 100,000 live births. Notwithstanding, large differences
can still be found between countries in the region, as well as amongst
women from different socio-economic and ethnic groups.
Improving access to reliable information for understanding and
preventing maternal death is one of the key challenges facing developing
countries today. In 2010, the Observatory for Maternal Health in Mexico
was established as a new civil-society led mechanism to create a system
of indicators that facilitate the analysis, assessment and systematic
monitoring of processes and outcomes of policies, strategies, programmes
and services aimed at reducing maternal mortality in the country. This
Brief provides an analysis of some of the key ways the Observatory is
supporting the government to develop and improve public policy aimed at
reducing maternal mortality, particularly amongst the country’s most
The Observatory for Maternal Mortality in Mexico has implemented a novel
strategy based on the creation of multidisciplinary, inter-agency and
cross-sector partnerships for carrying out coordinated actions aimed at
reducing maternal mortality.
By working with the main decision makers at federal, state and municipal
levels, the Observatory is facilitating the collaborative development of
maternal health policy that benefits from the technical expertise of
different members of government and civil society.
The Observatory model is replicable at local level where efforts to
change cultural attitudes towards maternal health can bolster broader
objectives aimed at improving access to public services.
[Available in English and Spanish.]
Toledo, C. ELLA Policy Brief: Observatory of Maternal Mortality in Mexico: A Civil Society-Led Initiative. ELLA, Practical Action Consulting, Lima, Peru (2013) 5 pp.