Death in Birth

The number of women in poor countries who die in childbirth has barely changed in two decades — and this despite a host of medical breakthroughs. How can the incidence of this devastating human tragedy be reduced?

Anna Kari / Documentography for TIME

After giving birth in the Princess Christian Maternity Ward in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Conteh underwent emergency treatment as her infant lay nearby.

In a hospital ward in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, Fatmata Conteh, 26, lay on a bed, having just given birth to her second child. She had started bleeding from a tear in her cervix, the blood forming a pool on the floor below. Two doctors ran in and stitched her up, relatives found blood supplies, and nurses struggled to connect a generator to the oxygen tank. One nurse jammed an intravenous needle into Conteh's arm, while another hooked a bag of blood to a rusted stand, and a third slapped an oxygen mask over her face. In the corner...

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