From 2002 – 2008, The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation invested US $5,000,000 in Mexico to contribute to a reduction in maternal mortality. Grant recipients included civil society organizations (CSOs) working at local, state and national levels in selected states with high maternal mortality ratios. Recipients also included CSOs based in Mexico City that have worked to address one specific cause of maternal mortality, unsafe abortion, which is a highly stigmatized cause of women dying throughout Mexico. Grant recipients advocated for improved public policies and health sector practices; conducted research to inform public policy; and monitored and publicized budget allocations to ensure that public sector resources were dedicated to addressing maternal mortality. Grantees focused their work on the needs of uninsured, low income and indigenous women in three states of high need- Chiapas, Guerrero, and Oaxaca- as well as on changing state and national level policies.
Researchers Jill Gay and Deborah Billings traveled to Mexico from September 22 – October 7, 2008 and conducted 60 interviews with grantees and stakeholders, including Ministry of Health officials, representatives of CSOs and researchers in Guerrero, Chiapas and Oaxaca. We also conducted interviews with leaders of US-based organizations active in work on maternal health in Mexico. We made site visits to clinics, hospitals and maternity homes, where women receive care during pregnancy, labor and postpartum, and to CSO offices. We traveled to one rural community in Chiapas and one semi-urban community in Guerrero to better understand the conditions in which women live and the challenges they face in seeking maternal health services.