A new report reveals that African women are 175 times more likely to die during childbirth than Westerners. These findings, issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), finds that women in sub-Saharan Africa have a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth.
The report examines maternal mortality in 2000, finding that 95 percent of the 529,000 total maternal deaths occurred in Africa and Asia. There is “an urgent need for increased access to emergency obstetric care, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” according to the report. The report also calls for family planning education and services of high quality because “more lives could be saved if women had access to voluntary family planning to ensure that births are spaced properly, skilled attendance at delivery, and emergency obstetric care.”
UNFPA also recently issued its 2003 State of World Population report, this year focusing on adolescents’ health and rights. The report calls for access to reproductive and sexual health information and services appropriate to the age, capacities, and circumstance of adolescent girls so that “adolescents who are sexually active can take necessary measure to protect their health.” According to the UNFPA, “women aged 15-19 account for at least one fourth of the estimated 20 million unsafe abortions performed each year.” The UNFPA calls for more investments in adolescent reproductive health needs and education and a supportive policy environment because “failing to support young people will have serious consequences at both the individual and societal levels.”