The Predicted Increase in Maternal Mortality Rates
It is predicted that the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the United States and the United Kingdom will grow in 2024. Despite postmortem reviews concluding that 80 percent of maternal deaths in high-income countries are preventable, rates in high-income countries have risen over the past decade, particularly in the UK and the US.
Factors Contributing to Increased MMR
The continuing consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic are expected to contribute to the predicted increase in MMR. However, neglect and systematic bias in medical care systems, as well as racial and class inequity, are identified as deeper problems that have existed prior to the pandemic and have exacerbated the situation.
Systemic Issues in Medical Care Systems
Critical challenges to improvement in the US include the lack of universal health insurance and a competitive health care system, leading to a loss of maternity care providers, especially in rural areas. The UK has also suffered insufficient investment in its healthcare facilities and equipment, with substandard maternity units and a shortage of midwives reaching crisis proportions.
Racial and Class Inequity
The highest MMRs and largest increases are seen in minoritized, working class, or deprived populations. Adverse living conditions, stigma, and discrimination they face contribute to their health inequities, and chronic physiological stress response is damaging their health at the cellular level, accelerating biological aging and increasing the risk of adverse maternal and infant outcomes.
Weathering and its Impact
Weathering, which is the chronic activation of the physiological stress response due to multiple systemic assaults, contributes to excess deaths, particularly in populations subject to severe weathering. Racist, classist, and xenophobic factors further fuel this weathering, contributing to adverse maternal and infant outcomes.
Political Climate and its Effect on Weathering
In 2024, political polarization, resentment, white nationalism, and austerity budgeting are expected to intensify the problem of weathering. Both the US and Western Europe are predicted to continue to struggle with embracing their minority or immigrant populations, exacerbating the situation further.
In conclusion, while the predicted increase in maternal mortality rates in 2024 is influenced by factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic, neglect and bias in medical care systems, racial and class inequity, and weathering fueled by political and societal factors, it is clear that addressing these deep-seated issues is crucial to improving maternal health outcomes in both the US and the UK.
In conclusion, the growing inequality in society is not only a social and economic issue, but also a health risk that is becoming increasingly severe. The disparities in access to healthcare, resources, and opportunities are contributing to worsening health outcomes for marginalized communities. It is imperative that policymakers and society as a whole address these disparities and work towards creating a more equitable and inclusive environment for all individuals. By addressing inequality, we can work towards improving overall health and well-being for everyone.