As much as we complain and bicker about health care in this country, many of us also take it for granted. Sure, our system isn't perfect, but I don't think many of us realize just how lucky we are to have access to health care, let alone have the freedom to argue about it. Here in the U.S., a child's fever or a pregnant mom's anemia are just a nuisance. In many countries, these conditions are likely to go untreated and could even prove fatal.  

Six and a half years ago, supermodel Christy Turlington learned firsthand how lucky she is to have access to health care. After giving birth to her daughter, Turlington started hemorrhaging. Fortunately, this common complication is easily treated in developed nations; however, it can prove fatal in the developing world.

That frightening moment was a wake-up call for Turlington, and it inspired her to learn more about maternal mortality. When she was pregnant for the second time, Turlington traveled to her mother's home country of El Salvador and met pregnant women who have to walk miles to collect clean water. The outrageuous disparity between the lives of these women and her own life propelled Turlington to launch her latest mission, a documentary about the health of pregnant women around the world.

"No Woman No Cry" tells the stories of women from many different countries, showing why pregnancy is so often deadly in poor countries. The film also shows how even small interventions can make a big difference. It begins in the Masai region of Tanzania, where a young woman named Janet nearly dies because she can’t afford the bus fare to a hospital that lies a few miles away. Had Turlington and her crew not been there, Janet might not have survived childbirth. That segment brings home the fact that simply building a clinic isn’t enough if women can't actually get there.

Turlington also takes care to make the connection between the plight of poor women abroad and at home. In the United States, as she shows, pregnant women without health insurance can have as much difficulty accessing care as those in the Third World.

To learn more about "No Woman No Cry" and how to support access to safe childbirth and reproductive health services, check out the nonprofit Every Mother Counts.

Thumbnail pic: Ali-ads/Flickr

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