What does it take to save a life?

A health center

Woman in a bright pink sari holding a tray of medical supplies.

Giving birth in a health facility with a trained attendant is safer for both mothers and babies. Yet poor families in India are often reluctant to use health centers because they fear the cost or don’t know enough about what causes mothers and newborns to die. And sometimes, health facilities are just too far away.

The main causes of maternal deaths—excessive bleeding during and after childbirth, high blood pressure, and severe infection, which is also a leading killer of newborns—are best treated in health facilities. And babies who can’t breathe at birth need skilled providers who know how to resuscitate.

PATH’s Sure Start project addressed these health problems by encouraging mothers to deliver in health centers. Over three years, the number of births in health care facilities more than doubled in project areas in Uttar Pradesh—from 24 percent to 57 percent. Over the same time period, the number of deaths among mothers and newborns fell.