A report shows that from 1990 to 2010, the annual number of maternal deaths dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000 – a decline of 47%. Trends in maternal mortality
, has been released by WHO, UNICEF, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank.
Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of UNFPA, said: ‘I am very pleased to see that the number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth continues to decline.
‘This shows that the enhanced effort of countries, supported by UNFPA and other development partners, is paying off.
‘But we can’t stop here. Our work must continue to make every pregnancy wanted and every childbirth safe.’
The report shows that substantial progress has been achieved in almost all regions.
However, it indicates that many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will fail to reach the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing maternal death by 75% by 2015.
At present, every two minutes a woman dies of pregnancy-related complications, with 99% of these deaths occurring in developing countries.
One third of all maternal deaths occur in just two countries – in 2010, almost 20% of deaths (56,000) were in India and 14% (40,000) were in Nigeria.
Of the 40 countries with the world’s highest rates of maternal death, 36 are in sub-Saharan Africa.
The most common causes are severe bleeding after childbirth, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, and unsafe abortions.
Dr Osotimehin said: ‘We know exactly what to do to prevent maternal deaths: improve access to voluntary family planning, invest in health workers with midwifery skills, and ensure access to emergency obstetric care when complications arise.
‘These interventions have proven to save lives and accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal 5.’
To read the report and the related supporting material, please click here