Substandard Prenatal Care

Both Latin America and Mexico are developing nations that have a modern economy that is encompassed in a rural peasant population. Mexico and Latin America are influenced by the forces of economics, politics, and cultural traditions that contribute to a rate of pregnancy problems and infant mortality that significantly exceeds their neighbors in North America.
The issue of prenatal care is an issue that has several relevant aspects. It is a woman’s issue, and as such has suffered from gender bias that has pervaded the hemisphere due to the impact of religion and its view of women. As with other women’s issues, such as breast cancer, funding for prenatal care is often diminished by the male dominated power structure. However, prenatal care is not merely a women’s issue as it impacts males and female alike and is an integral part of a healthy family. In the 21st century, prenatal care has become an issue of basic human rights. It addresses the most fundamental units of society (the children) that are incapable of deciding or acting for themselves.
Adequate prenatal care is a broad based program that not only delivers a healthy child at birth, but also addresses the needs of the pregnant woman, her nutrition, mental health, and delivery safety. It should include "Safe and clean delivery, early detection and management of sexually transmitted diseases, infections and complications during pregnancy and delivery and taking into account the physiological needs of the newborn baby" (World Health Organization 25). When these interventions are accessible, affordable, and offered to pregnant women, they can have a substantial effect on improving the health of the newborn child and mother. There has been some increased international focus on this issue as it has been recognized that "the vast majority of infant and maternal deaths and disabilities are preventable through high quality care, detection and efficient referral for complications, and access to the essential elements of obstetric care when needed" (Glei, Goldman, and Rodriguez 3). While these initiatives are helpful, they are impeded by competing social, cultural, and economic factors.
The forces that influence the delivery of adequate prenatal care have particularly impacted Latin America and Mexico, our neighbors to the South. Economics, culture, and politics have all taken a toll on this region in regards to health care. While the external influences of diet and the environment contribute to infant mortality, "maternal mortality is almost wholly attributable to a lack of-or poor quality- prenatal, delivery, and puerperal care" (Casas, Dachs, and Bambas 27). These services are difficult for many women to attain due to cultural traditions that have subjugated women and an economic system that has placed prenatal care out of the reach of the masses in this region. Inequalities based on wealth are one of the biggest obstacles that women in the lower economic classes face. In Mexico, less than 10 percent of all the babies born to the lower economic classes are born in a hospital, but this number rises to 90 percent for the upper economic municipalities (Casas, Dachs, and Bambas 31). Countries in Latin America have mediated this figure by mandating a goal of 80 percent of all deliveries be attended by a skilled professional,