Worldwide, maternal mortality rates are still unacceptably high and no doubt more strenuous efforts are needed by international development partners, governments and policy makers to ensure that countries make progress in reducing these rates.According to recent statistics released by the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 830 women die from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications around the world every day. Improving maternal health was one of 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by the international community in 2000.Under MDG 5, countries committed to reducing maternal mortality by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015. Since 1990, the number of maternal deaths worldwide has dropped by 43 per cent.Seeing that it is possible to accelerate the decline, countries have now united behind a new target to reduce maternal mortality even further. One target under Sustainable Development Goal 3 is to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 births, with no country having a maternal mortality rate of more than twice the global average.According to WHO, the high number of maternal deaths in some areas of the world reflects inequities in access to health services, and highlights the gap between rich and poor. Almost all maternal deaths (99 per cent) occur in developing countries.Here in Guyana, despite achieving progress during the last decade, this country continues to experience one of the highest maternal and infant mortality rates in Latin America and the Caribbean, with a maternal mortality rate estimated at around 121 per 1000 live births and an infant mortality rate at 22 per 1000 live births.The media have reported several cases of maternal and child deaths over the past few years and several investigations were launched to determine what contributed to these deaths. In many cases the findings of the probe brought into question the conduct of healthcare professionals and the entire system as a whole.The bottom line is that too many of our women have lost their lives during child birth and too many babies have died due to various complications in the very early stages of their lives. On several occasions before we had called for the authorities to take immediate action to ensure that maternal and child death rates continue to decline steadily.Now that Guyana will have access to an US million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to help reduce maternal, perinatal and neonatal deaths in Guyana, much of the crucial programmes we had called for over the years to reduce these deaths could be implemented.According to the IDB, given that about 93 per cent of deaths in children less than one year of age occurred in the neonatal period, the programme will support and improve maternal and child health care with a focus on improving access to quality neonatal health services and providing a better path to and quality of reproductive and maternal health services.It is also expected that more would be done to improve the vaccination programme and to incorporate new vaccines.Additionally, under the Maternal and Child Health Programme it is expected that all mothers are registered with a clinic and are examined during the course of their pregnancy. This will greatly reduce the chances of maternal deaths as well as creating environments for pregnant mothers towards having a healthy pregnancy.The WHO has underlined the fact that all women need access to antenatal care in pregnancy, skilled care during childbirth, and care and support in the weeks after childbirth.To avoid maternal deaths, it is also vital to prevent unwanted and too-early pregnancies. All women, including adolescents, need access to contraception, safe abortion services to the full extent of the law, and quality post-abortion care.To improve maternal health, barriers that limit access to quality maternal health services must be identified and addressed at all levels of the health system.The fact is that most maternal deaths are preventable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known.