Maternal Deaths Drop By Nearly Half Worldwide Over 20 Years; Greater Progress Still Needed, U.N. Reports
“The number of women dying of pregnancy- and childbirth-related complications has almost halved in 20 years, according to new estimates released [on Wednesday] by the United Nations, which stressed that greater progress is still needed in significantly reducing maternal deaths,” the U.N. News Centre reports (5/16). “The report, ‘Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010,’ 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 percent,” a UNFPA press release states (5/16). However, “[w]hile substantial progress has been achieved in almost all regions, many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will fail to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of reducing maternal death by 75 percent through 2015,” Inter Press Service writes (Deen, 5/16). “Countries in Eastern Asia have made [the] most progress on improving the health of expectant and new mothers, said the report,” Agence France-Presse adds (5/16).
“The report from the World Health Organization, United Nations Children’s Fund, United Nations Population Fund and the World Bank said about 99 percent of maternal deaths occur in developing nations, and most are preventable,” the Associated Press/Washington Post notes (5/16). “Women whose deaths are linked to pregnancy or childbirth most commonly lose their lives to severe bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy and unsafe abortions, the report said,” the Los Angeles Times’ “World Now” blog states (Alpert, 5/16). “The decline is attributable to increases in contraception and in antiretroviral drugs for mothers with AIDS, and to greater numbers of births attended by nurses, doctors or midwives with medical training,” according to the New York Times (McNeil, 5/16). “‘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,’ said Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the U.N. Population Fund,” the Christian Science Monitor writes (LaFranchi, 5/16).