Two recent reports have brought to the fore the shocking number of women who are dying of preventable causes in SA. They set out the terrible price women are paying for the failings of the public health system, on which the majority of patients depend.

First there is the Saving Mothers Report 2020-22, which investigated deaths during pregnancy, childbirth and in the six weeks that followed. Even before the pandemic struck, SA’s institutional maternal mortality rate was far too high, at 98.8 per 100,000 live births in 2019. The disruption to routine health services during the pandemic, combined with the direct risks Covid-19 posed to pregnant women, sent SA’s maternal mortality rate soaring to 148.4 in 2021, before falling to 109.7 in 2022. Put another way, there were a staggering 3,763 maternal deaths in the three-year period covered by the report...

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