Global Health for Women: COVID-19 and the Burden of Maternal Mortality
As a doctor, I am angry and frustrated by the disregard for human life demonstrated when people say that COVID-19 is a hoax. I have worked 24 hour shifts in my KN95 mask. I have participated in the complex process of donning gown, gloves, and masks worn over mask over masks. How can anyone ignore the numbers? How is it possible to refuse to see that each death represents a human life? Numerous people refuse to wear a mask or social distance. This level of disregard for others is horrifying.
I am a survivor of COVID-19, I experience a bond of empathy for anyone who has lost a family member during this pandemic. Although I have made a place for my empathy to remain alive and vital, my job as a scientist and physician demands my participation in addressing the disastrous effect of COVID-19. I have trained myself to be both empathetic and scientific. I understand that terms like ‘burden of disease’ allow us to measure the impact of the loss of an individual by studying the cause of death.
The CDC COVID Data Tracker: More than Numbers
The importance of monitoring the impact of COVID-19 during pregnancy enables us to better protect mothers and babies. The CDC COVID-19 tracker reports a total of 44,183 cases of COVID-19 in pregnancy which has resulted in 8,511 hospitalizations and 57 deaths. Each hospitalization requires a team of physicians- obstetrician, maternal-fetal-medicine specialist, intensivist, pulmonologist, ultrasonographer, nursing staff. The difficulty of caring for each expectant mother involves teams of specialist, both her and baby. This represents an enormous utilization of resources.
I remember the first COVID-19 patient admitted to the hospital. At the time, there were few ‘protocols’, if any. As physicians, we developed a community effort by collaborating with our colleagues working in nearby facilities.
It is challenging to confront a disease without the benefit of data or precedence, but we did it and both mom and baby survived.
The Burden of Maternal Mortality
The COVID-19 pandemic has proved that communities of physicians and scientists can work toward a common goal. My hope is that physicians and healthcare providers working in middle- and low- income countries will benefit from the increasing expansion of data and information, too.
Their work is all the daunting due economic factors. Many middle-and low-income countries face multiplicative challenges that include access to clean running water, fragile economies, war, and cross-border migration. Sheltering in place can be impossible and maintaining social distance may be life-threatening.
We will decrease the burden of maternal mortality when we work together.