Lila Downs and PAHO launch campaign to prevent postpartum hemorrhage deaths in the Americas

Press conference

One of every five maternal deaths in the region is due to obstetric hemorrhage. Most could be prevented by expanding access to quality care and addressing economic, geographic and cultural barriers.

Mexico City, 24 November 2015 (PAHO) - The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and Mexican singer Lila Downs have launched the #ZeroMaternalDeaths campaign in order to mobilize the region of the Americas to reduce maternal deaths caused by postpartum hemorrhage, a leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide.

Countries in the region have significantly reduced maternal deaths since 1990, but more than 5,500 women die each year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, most of which are preventable. One in five of these deaths is due to postpartum hemorrhage.

"No woman should die from causes that we can prevent, control or treat. Preventing these deaths is a matter of social justice," said Dr. Cuauhtemoc Ruiz Matus, acting director of the Department of Family, Gender and Life Course at PAHO. Most of these deaths are related to poverty and marginalization.

The name of the initiative refers to the ambitious goal of reducing preventable maternal deaths to zero, which could be achieved with timely, respectful, and high-quality pregnancy and delivery care, as well as access to emergency obstetric care.

To address this problem, PAHO launched the Zero Maternal Deaths from Hemorrhage initiative in countries such as Bolivia, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Haiti, and Peru, where there tend to be more deaths from hemorrhage.

Lila Downs has joined the project and will now be its official spokesperson. "I am partnering with PAHO on the Zero Maternal Deaths by Hemorrhage Project to do my part in reaching out to women and their communities so that these women have healthy deliveries, and more children will grow up in the presence and love of their mothers," she said, adding: "Awareness and education can save the lives of thousands of mothers each year from needless deaths due to complications during pregnancy or childbirth."

During the presentation of the campaign, which was held at the United Nations in Mexico, Downs and Ruiz spoke of the importance of mobilizing governments, health care providers, civil society, families, and communities. "We all must do more to bring health care to women and address determinants that are outside the health system, including conditions at home or in the community, culture, education or transport. We all have a role to play in saving lives," Ruiz said.

The initiative aims to promote prenatal healthcare and humanized childbirth, improve quality of care through training on the management of obstetric emergencies, provide means for the transfer of patients with complications, and ensure the availability of safe blood.

About Lila Downs

Lila Downs is a world-renowned, award-winning singer-songwriter from Oaxaca, Mexico. Her music brings together various musical forms with traditional Mexican and native Mesoamerican music. Singing in Spanish, English and the languages of the Mixtec, Zapotec, Maya, and Nahuatl, her lyrics often address social justice, human rights, and indigenous issues. For over 15 years, Lila has been a key supporter and contributor to the Guadalupe Musalem Fund of the "Rosario Castellanos Women's House" which provides scholarships for secondary education to young indigenous women who are of disadvantaged backgrounds but committed to their education and their communities.