Ecuador cuts public service salaries to adopt a multi-million dollar initiative in hopes of decreasing maternal deaths to levels closer to those in Western Europe. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Giving birth is often one of the most beautiful times in the life of a family. But in some parts of the world, giving birth involves substantial risk. In Ecuador, 155 women died in pregnancy-related deaths in 2013. That number moved up to 160 in 2014. While those numbers may be in line with many Latin American countries, it's too high for President Rafael Correa who has made the issue a priority. In February, he signed legislation cutting salaries of public officials to drum up an additional 21 million dollars for maternal health. For patients this has been welcome news. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) CATHERINE GONZALES, MOTHER, SAYING: "It's very beneficial because now that they've been taking the initiative you can see how they take care of us. The places are clean, it's pleasant being here and one feels content. Above all -- it's safe for the baby and for oneself, so I feel very good about bringing such a beautiful baby into the world." The World Health Organization says about 800 women die from pregnancy or childbirth-related complications around the world every day. Most of those deaths occur in poor countries.