Nicholas Kristoff, columnist for the New York Times, has an interesting piece (and accompanying video) on maternal mortality in Africa
. Women in many places in Africa, die during childbirth at a depressingly high rate: 1 in 10 births in some areas. What Kristoff piece does well is give a succinct impression of the different, and often avoidable, causes of maternal mortality during childbirth: poverty and lack of education; gender inequality and the associated low priority for women's health issues; brain drain of medical personnel to richer countries; overworked health staff and abusive attitudes towards (especially female) patients; sub-standard medical facilities; transport barriers to reaching health care centers, particularly for pre-natal services. The avoidability of death in such cases -- sometimes a mother's life could be saved with a few dollars -- makes this an ethical issue, and not just a medical one.