Global Health

UN Reports Major Decrease In Maternal Mortality Worldwide

A new report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division reveals a 44 percent drop in maternal mortality worldwide since 1990, highlighting the successful efforts of the many international agencies to reduce the number of pregnancy-related deaths among women globally.

According to data compiled in Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015, maternal deaths around the world dipped from some 532,000 in 1990 to about 303,000 in 2015, cutting the number of women’s pregnancy-related deaths nearly in half over a quarter century. The report’s findings is good news for the all international organizations especially UN which, in 2000, pledged to reduce the global maternal mortality rate to below 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030, with no country averaging worse than 140. Of the regions analyzed, Eastern Asia made the most progress, boasting a rate decrease of 27 deaths per 100,000 live births, down from 95 in 1990. Iceland and Finland as well as Poland and Greece experienced the lowest maternal mortality at a rate of 3 per 100,000. Despite still suffering from very high numbers of pregnancy-related deaths, Sub-Saharan Africa maternal mortality rate is also down from 987 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 546 today.

Though many countries made considerable strides to improve accessibility and quality of women’s reproductive healthcare around the world, some still lag behind. North Korea, Venezuela and Zimbabwe were among 13 countries where maternal mortality increased. The United States, too, saw a rise in pregnancy-related deaths from 12 to 14 per 100,000 births over 25 years. On the other side, Afghanistan has been making tremendous progress in decreasing maternal mortality rate. The death rates decreased from 1340 in 1990 to 1100 in 2000 and to 394 in 2015. Sadly, currently Sierra Leone has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world. The maternal mortality rate in 2015 in this country accounts to 1360 per 100,000.

In a statement last week, Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO’s assistant director-general for family, women’s, and children’s health celebrated the gains made in women’s health regionally, but underscored the importance of continued efforts to expand care for women worldwide. “Over the past 25 years, a woman’s risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes has nearly halved,” said Bustreo. “That’s real progress, although it is not enough. We know that we can virtually end these deaths by 2030 and this is what we are committing to work towards.”

Media Resources: UN News Centre 11/12/15

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