The spectacular GDP growth recorded by some West African countries in the past 5 years is all of a sudden undermined by the spread of the Ebola virus. The epidemic has put under the spotlight the poor conditions of health systems in the region, but also the fragility of economic models measured only by Gross Domestic Product.
Disability, infertility, being shunned by your community and in the worst case even death: these are just some of the terrifying risks women expose themselves to when they have an unsafe abortion. Yet every year 21.6 million women, 99% of them in the developing world, are so desperate to end an unwanted pregnancy that they will quite literally risk their lives.
This loss of everything I took for granted in my adult life was much more overwhelming to me than the love I felt for my baby. I know, I said it, shoot me world - and what a world we live in when it comes to 'views' on mothers. How we should feel, how we should look, how we should react... the expectations are real and they are fired at a new mother like arrows from a bow.
Fewer women are dying in child birth, more girls are going to school, increased numbers of women are taking on roles in public office, there are more female entrepreneurs and less poverty. But significant challenges remain, and we are still a long way from achieving universal access to reproductive and sexual health and the realisation of reproductive rights for all.
With the recent loss of Nelson Mandela, South African found its voice - and during the memorial service, its silence - in Desmond Tutu. He was Mandela's ally through so many decades of struggle. He remains a hugely respected scourge of the world's wrongs, and irrepressible champion of the oppressed.
Five years' on, maternal health is a UK Government priority, has massive investment, and we are seeing a huge reduction in the number of women and children dying in childbirth globally. Choose the right issue at the right time, and a Parliamentary inquiry really can change the debate - and more importantly, change lives.
When a mother-to-be presents to a maternity ward preparing for the birth of her child, she is admitted to the care of healthcare professionals and should be able to feel confident in their support. By reflecting on those occasions when services have failed, we can devise actionable improvements to better outcomes for patients and staff, and ensure our hospitals are safe.
People around the world know that education is the key to a better life. Voters from over 190 countries who responded to the United Nations My World survey said providing a good education for all was the best way to build a better world. There's a huge gap between that goal and reality, however: 250million children are still being denied a chance to learn the basics.
This week marks 100 days since the report of the high level panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda. As eminent persons and development academics once again turn their thoughts to what will replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it's worth remembering what these debates really mean for mothers and babies in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The birth of the Royal baby, Prince George of Cambridge, was a time to celebrate for most of the British public. Unmarred by worries of a traumatic birth in volatile conditions in a country where we are lucky enough to have free access to healthcare. But others are not so lucky. Every day, around 1,000 women die in childbirth or from a pregnancy-related complication.
Off my face on painkillers and hormones after an emergency c. section and haemorrhage, I was repeatedly pressured by a sales rep to buy baby photographs. She kept returning to see if I'd 'made a decision'; I could barely decide which way up my baby was supposed to be. Of course this should be banned. It's borderline barbarism and places commercial factors above maternal wellbeing.
Exhausted, time-poor new mothers relish the beautifully packaged bundles of nutritious goodness carefully crafted by clinical experts, together with advice from their Chinese Physician at Thomson Chinese Medicine. The 28-day menu is catered to mothers who have more discerning palates, whilst maintaining the nutritional aspects of the herbs used in preparing the meals.
So why such vociferous reactions to the call for data to be disaggregated by ethnicity? Partly this reflects the practical difficulties in collecting and analysing data at a sub-national level in parts of the world where it is challenging enough to undertake surveys that simply capture national averages.