Each day over 1400 women worldwide die from pregnancy and childbirth related causes. Almost all of these, over half a million women per year, die in middle- and low-income countries. Their deaths are for the greater part avoidable. Of the 10.4 million annual childhood deaths, 3.85 million (37%) are neonates of which approximately 1.2 million (31%) die as a consequence of preterm delivery or low birth weight and some 300 000 from congenital anomalies. Considerably more children with congenital disorders are diagnosed and die after the neonatal period. Many of these maternal and childhood deaths, and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, are preventable with preconception care. Therefore, preconception health should be an essential component of maternal and child health promotion.
The overall objective of Preparing for Life is to initiate an international awareness and prevention program to reduce common known risks of adverse health effects for the parents-to-be, the fetus or neonate by addressing women and men at child-bearing age, in both developed and developing countries. This objective follows the 4th and 5th UN- millennium development goal to "reduce child mortality by two/thirds'' and “reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters”. The unique nature of Preparing of Life is the cooperation between a diversity of committed groups: scientific, medical and public health professionals, patient organizations, governments and service organizations, such as the Rotary.