Two decades have passed since the global community agreed in Nairobi to the Safe Motherhood Initiative to reduce maternal deaths. However, every year 536,000 pregnant women are dying. There is no ambiguity about why most of these women are dying. These tragedies are avoidable if women have timely access to quality essential obstetric and emergency care. Rural and poor women are mostly excluded from accessing skilled and emergency care. Quality facility-based care is the best option to reduce maternal mortality. Scaling up essential interventions and services-particularly for those who are excluded-is a substantial and challenging undertaking. We need to challenge our policy makers and program managers to refocus program content; to shift focus from development of new technologies toward development of viable organizational strategies to provide access to essential and emergency obstetric care 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and account for every birth and every death.