Mitchell Reports | May 08, 2012
>> what would mother 's day be without mothers? the global health initiative called every mother counts, calling on moms everywhere to disappear this sunday, no phone calls, no e-mails, no gifts. the idea is to bring attention to the void left when a woman dies from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. it's the cause of death for nearly 360,000 women each and every year.
>> my absence --
>> will show everyone just how much a mother is missed when she is gone.
>> and get families across the country talking about this issue.
>> so that next year there will be more mothers and families.
>> who can celebrate mother 's day together.
>> so join me.
>> and me.
>> and me.
>> for no mother 's day.
>> christy turlington burns is a former model and activist who founded the organization every mother counts. we've talking about this before, you and i. thank you so much for being with us. what an interesting idea. i know a lot of moms would welcome the idea. i know this sounds, you know, sort of like it's heresy, but welcome the idea of saving the money and time and effort that goes into mother 's day flowers and gifts and cards and putting it into something this important.
>> well, you know, it's been interesting. i believe that too. i think this is an opportunity on an issue that involves mothers. we have moms at the center of our minds and hearts during this week. but there is something like $18 billion spent on mothers on mother 's day alone in the united states . that money certainly could be redirected to reducing maternal deaths and improving maternal health around the world. what we're trying to do is get people to stop for a moment and consider how many lives are lost each day, and mother 's day in particular, and to try to generate some of that positive energy and love toward the mother towards every mother .
>> your organization has put forward some of the mortality rates, maternal mortality ratings, which are astounding. in ireland, one in 47,600 mothers. in the united states , 1 in 4800. we're talking about extraordinarily high rates of maternal mortality .
>> they really are. 99% of these deaths are happening in the developing world . but they do happen mere in the u.s. as well. 50% of those deaths are preventable too. what's incredible about this issue is not only that it's underreported, is that there's so many of these deaths that are preventable. that's the part i'm hoping to get people to wake up to and realize that there is some place for their voice or their lack of voice on that day to show that we do have solidarity with other women around the world.
>> i know you've talked about this publicly. you said that one of the things that inspired you was problems in your own pregnancy. can you speak to that as a mom?
>> sure. i didn't have problems in my pregnancy, but after i delivered my first child eight years ago, i had a complication that was managed really efficiently in a birthing center within a hospital in new york city . i learned afterwards when trying to understand why that happened to me that the same complication was the leading cause of maternal mortality around the world. i felt like i had to know more. it wasn't enough to me that i had the care i needed or the access i needed. it was a matter of how many millions of women don't have access to that care. i believe that's a right that every pregnant woman should have, access to quality maternity care .
>> you've traveled around the world. you've traveled to africa. you've been if haiti. talk to me about what the obstacles are in some of these developing countries .
>> i would say one of the biggest barriers is really transport. getting women to care when they need it at the right time. only 15% of all pregnancies can have a complication, so there's a lot of not knowing who that might be. we can sort of gauge some women that have pre-existing conditions like diabetes or, you know, chronic illnesses. for so many others, there's no way to know. it's really important that wherever they deliver, that they're somehow linked to emergency obstetric care in the event they should need it. sometimes distance -- you know, you could drive hours in haiti or the united states for that matter. we have several hospitals closing down in this country. in a state like new york, there are a lot of women who are two and three hours away from a hospital. that's life or death if you were to have a post partum hemorrhage. that's something we need to be aware of.
>> so much of the data, which are startling and upsetting, are that african-american women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than caucasian women . is that because of the hospitals in their neighborhoods? is that because of lack of prenatal care ? is it a combination?
>> it's a combination. certainly looking at the data, there are a lot of factors. but it doesn't always necessarily have a correlation to socioeconomic background or access to services per se . it's almost the way that women are treated once they do have care. there's also some genetic things that we don't really understand because we're not studying them closely enough. latino women are two times as likely as caucasian women to die in pregnancy. we just don't know enough. we know the data is presenting these disparities, but we don't know why. another focus is to entourage more research to we can understand why that is.
>> well, christy turlington burns , happy mother 's day to you and to all of our mothers. also, we are very mindful of the information that you've brought to us. we thank you for your activism.
>> thank you, andrea. thank you