Skilled care, before, during and after childbirth, saves the lives of women and their newborn babies.

Almost all maternal deaths (99%) occur in developing countries. About 800 women die from pregnancy - or childbirth-related complications around the world every day. More than half of these deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa. Maternal mortality is higher in women living in rural and remote areas.

The maternal mortality ratio in developing countries in 2013 was 230 per 100,000 live births versus 16 per 100,000 live births in developed countries. The risk of maternal mortality is highest for adolescent girls under 15-years-old, and complications in pregnancy and childbirth is the leading cause of death among adolescent girls.

The programmes run by Valerie and Andrew also address Emergency Obstetric Care (EmOC) - which includes birth-related injuries such as obstetric fistula*. However there are an estimated two million women in Africa with untreated fistula injuries sustained because they could not reach help in time. Dr Andrew Browning and his teams run outreach fistula camps in many African countries to relieve some of this terrible burden. In the AFAR region, an education programme to reduce the traditional practise of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) has long been championed by Valerie, and is now gathering further traction in a partnership with the United Nations.

Sydney Morning Herald: Princess Mary Makes Humanitarian Visit to Ethiopia

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