Degree Name

MA in Sustainable Development

First Advisor

Kanthie Athukorala


Improving maternal and infant health is an important aspiration espoused by countries and institutions across the world. Despite international efforts, little progress has been made in the developing world, and 14,000 women and girls die from complications of pregnancy and in childbirth each day. Even more perplexing is the known fact that it is not modern obstetrics that has led to the major maternal health improvements in western nations, but rather the dissemination of best practices for basic deliveries, increased access to skilled birth attendants, and a political will that places value on pregnancy and birth, all of which implies that healthier pregnancies and improved birth outcomes should be within the reach of poor nations. This study seeks to understand what fosters positive interest in midwifery and increased access to skilled birth attendants by exploring the environmental, political, economic and social factors. A quantitative research methodology has been used, employing an interpretivist paradigm. Primary research was conducted in Niger and Burkina Faso. Research results have been organized into three categories: (1) the role of context and how maternal health is inextricably linked to other development challenges; (2) relationships between care providers and the population; and, (3) the influence of various bodies of authority. Ultimately, it is argued that increasing access to skilled birth attendants and making other improvements in maternal health can only be accomplished by creating a political and social dynamic that recognizes the true value of women and understands their integral role in creating a healthy and well society.


Maternal and Child Health | Public Health Education and Promotion


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