In this paper, we take a broad perspective on maternal health and place it in its wider context. We draw attention to the economic and social vulnerability of pregnant women, and stress the importance of concomitant broader strategies, including poverty reduction and women's empowerment. We also consider outcomes beyond mortality, in particular, near-misses and long-term sequelae, and the implications of the close association between the mother, the fetus, and the child. We make links to a range of global survival initiatives, particularly neonatal health, HIV, and malaria, and to reproductive health. Finally, after examining the political and financial context, we call for action. The need for strategic vision, financial resources, human resources, and information are discussed.
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