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Fewer Mothers, Children Dying Globally, But Progress Varies Greatly Among Countries, Report Says

“Deaths of mothers giving birth in developing countries have dropped by nearly half since 1990, while deaths of children under five have fallen from 12 million to 7.6 million, according to a new report released Wednesday by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF),” the Los Angeles Times reports. “A few countries have made ‘spectacular progress’ toward lowering death rates, but some others have made virtually no progress at all, according to the report, ‘Building a Future for Women and Children,’ which was published under the auspices of the Countdown to 2015 Initiative,” the newspaper writes (Maugh, 6/13). “The report assesses the progress that the 75 highest-burden countries are making towards achieving U.N. Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 (MDGs),” a Countdown to 2015 press release states, noting, “These MDGs call for reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters and the deaths of children under five by two-thirds, both by 2015 compared to 1990 levels” (6/13).

“Despite major achievements in improving the health of women and children, only eight of the world’s poorest 75 countries are on track to meet Millennium Development Goals on reducing maternal and child deaths set by the United Nations and adopted by world leaders in 2000,” BMJ writes. “A rising prevalence of preterm births, inadequate nutrition of children, short maternal stature, micronutrient deficiencies during pregnancy, low allocation of government spending to health, and shortages of health workers are all contributing to the poor progress,” the journal adds (Kmietowicz, 6/13). “Countdown to 2015 launches its 2012 Report … at the Child Survival Call to Action, a two-day high-level meeting in Washington, D.C.,” the WHO notes on its webpage (6/14).

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.