A week ago, Australia was getting ready to celebrate Mother’s day. A recent report showed that Australia is the number two place in the world to be a mum. This is pretty good news for those of us looking to add to our family! The report ranks 164 countries on women’s access to health care, education and opportunities. Norway wins the top spot, and I don’t think any of us should be shocked to learn that all of the countries ranked in the top ten were developed nations.
What mums celebrated on mother’s day varied dramatically depending on where they lived. Afghanistan is listed as the world’s toughest place to be a mum. The opportunities for women, and mums in Australia compared to Afghanistan are starkly different. Heartbreakingly, two of every five children in Afghanistan are malnourished. One in five will die before their fifth birthday. Australian women typically complete 21 years of schooling and have a life expectancy of 84. Compare this to Afghanistan where women, on average have less than five years schooling and female life expectancy is only 45. These statistics alone pain my heart, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
I have recently been writing on the topic of the pill. Access to family planning and contraception is a considerable factor in determining where women and mothers rank on the index. My last blog didn’t express my absolute appreciation of the role that contraceptives can play in developing countries. Without access to health care and family planning services, the wellbeing of the entire community suffers. A devastating statistic shows that 8.1 million children die each year around the world before the age of five, from preventable illnesses. Nearly half of those children die within the first month of their life. This demonstrates the importance of access to health care in developing countries. If you have read my stance on vaccination you will realize that I am cautious when it comes to immunisations in places like Australia where our standards of living is more sanitized, our food is clean and our water safer to drink than so many other countries . We are on the whole, healthy. I query the need for some immunisations (ie chicken pox) under our positive circumstances. In third world countries however, vaccinations play a huge role in assisting children’s health and are shown to improve health in these nations considerably.
With access to modern contraception and Family Planning Services, women in developing countries have a greater opportunity to finish school and earn a decent living. This enables women to acquire the tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life for themselves, their children and for generations to come.
I think it is important to realize how lucky we are to be in the top ten and to appreciate that we can have, and maintain excellent health in Australia. We have the luxury to seek out help where needed and alternative medicines that compliment almost all issues that arrive.
Be encouraged to keep in good health and appreciate not only are you lucky to be a mum in Australia, you are lucky to be a mum of healthy children in Australia. Health is a gift – but we need to work to maintain it.
Save the Children State of the Worlds Mothers Report 2011