This is a statement delivered by the World Heart Federation at the WHO Executive Board Meeting (EB154) on Agenda Item 12: Acceleration towards the Sustainable Development Goal targets for maternal health and child mortality.
We thank the WHO for the report, highlighting gaps to achieving SDG targets for reducing maternal and child mortality.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of maternal death. Detection and multidisciplinary care before, during, and after pregnancy is essential. Rheumatic heart disease, a neglected CVD primarily affecting women and children, increases risk of adverse outcomes during pregnancy. Unfortunately, women are often unaware that they have RHD or CVD until pregnancy, and health during pregnancy is seen as the domain of obstetric providers, who may lack the expertise to treat complex conditions. It is frequently unclear where responsibility of care lies postpartum, and crucial opportunities to promote health and reduce future risk may be missed.
Standardized, comprehensive CVD care in pregnancy is crucial for reducing maternal morbidity and mortality. While global guidelines exist, there is need to address gaps in availability, access, and contextual relevance of policies in LMICs in particular.