The 2009 State of the World’s Children report released by the United Nations Childrens Fund last week shows childbearing to be one of the greatest health risks for women around the world. An estimated 10 million women have died due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth since 1990. According to the report (see PDF), women in developing countries are 300 times more likely to die during childbirth than women in industrialized nations.
Millennium Development Goal 5 (see PDF) aims to improve maternal health by reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters and by achieving universal access to reproductive health services. The report reaffirms a commitment to these goals and states that there is no need to wait for a scientific breakthrough or a new paradigm to illuminate the best way forward. The knowledge that can save millions of newborn and maternal lives is available; data and analysis are improving rapidly; the framework for action the Millennium Development Goals is set.
Ann M. Veneman, UNICEF’s Executive Director said in a press release that “saving the lives of mothers and their newborns requires more than just medical intervention. Educating girls is pivotal to improving maternal and neonatal health and also benefits families and societies.” The report itself states that “success will be measured in terms of lives saved and lives improved.”