// Maternal Mortality Awareness – Cuba | Mothers Monument
Cuba’s maternal mortality rate has fluctuated between 40 and 80 deaths per 100,00 live births over the last two decades, and there appears to be a slight upward trend ((WHO)). Considered exceptional for a developing country, Cuba is often looked to as an example of how to improve maternal health with limited and challenging circumstances ((UNPF 2012)), it also highlight the limits of a maternal health plan which focuses on trained staff.

Increasing Awareness of maternal mortality of Cuban mothers

Beginning in the 1950’s Casto’s government invested heavily in the health care sector ((Gendercide 2002)). Maternal deaths declining rapidly over the next several decades.

Currently 100% of all births are attended to by a skilled practitioner ((Save the Children, State of the World’s Mothers 2012, 62, Published May 2012)). Women visit a physcian on average 10 times before birth ((Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women CEDAW 1999)). The quality of care is not directly an issue. In order for rates to decline further one must consider and address risk factors beyond skilled attendees at birth.

While exact poverty level conditions are highly disputed, there is evidence that it is not rare ((Some sources may be biased: The Real Cuba, Havannah Times, The Atlantic)). One factor which appears to be exacerbated by poverty is anemia ((Banerjee et al)). Nearly 50% of all women in Cuba are anemic and this rates has remained relatively stable for at least a decade ((Save the Children 2006 45; International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW), CEDAW Shadow Report,  2000 )). The government has implemented vitamin programs in an attempt to lower these rates ((United Nations, CEDAW Report, 2006, 66)). It is too soon to know how well they will work.

Beyond diet women are also under considerable stress due to domestic violence. Domestic violence is highly concentrated in the lower educated family and during child bearing ages ((Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1999 22)). While it is unclear the exact extent of the level of domestic violence qualitative data suggest the rate is exceptionally high ((United Nations, CEDAW Report, 2006) 34, 35)). Domestic violence is rarely reported, and there is evidence that when women do report violence often increases with no protection offered by authorities ((United States of America, Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Cuba, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 11, 2008)). Violence is most common in the home, but it also extends to the public sphere at work, and school ((Havana Times, My Daddy Hit Her Again, Rosa Martinez, Havana Times, (Published 13 May, 2010), Para. 1-9, 14)).

Only and increased awareness, and acceptance, of the various causes of increased stress leading up to and during pregnancy, will allow the current efforts to address maternal health to truly reach their full potential. Hopefully Cuba can be a further example in these areas as well.


 

  1. WHO 
  2. UNPF 2012 
  3. Gendercide 2002 
  4. Save the Children, State of the World’s Mothers 2012, 62, Published May 2012 
  5. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against WomenCEDAW 1999 
  6. Some sources may be biased: The Real Cuba, Havannah Times, The Atlantic 
  7. Banerjee et al 
  8. Save the Children 2006 45; International Women’s Rights Action Watch (IWRAW), CEDAW Shadow Report,  2000  
  9. United Nations, CEDAW Report, 2006, 66 
  10. Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1999 22 
  11. United Nations, CEDAW Report, 2006) 34, 35 
  12. United States of America, Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Cuba, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 11, 2008 
  13. Havana Times, My Daddy Hit Her Again, Rosa Martinez, Havana Times, (Published 13 May, 2010), Para. 1-9, 14