New Estimates Show Major Reduction in Maternal Mortality, But More Progress Needed

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New global maternal mortality estimates were released today in a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank. The report,“Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2010”, shows that the number of women dying of pregnancy and childbirth related complications has almost halved in 20 years.  The estimates show that from 1990 to 2010, the annual number of maternal deaths has dropped from more than 543,000 to 287,000–and that a number of countries have already reached the MDG target of 75 per cent reduction in maternal death.

Major highlights from the report:

• In 2010, the global maternal mortality ratio was 210 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Sub-Saharan Africa had the highest maternal mortality ratio at 500 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

• In sub-Saharan Africa, a woman faces a 1 in 39 lifetime risk of dying due to pregnancy or childbirth-related complications. In South-eastern Asia the risk is 1 in 290 and in developed countries, it is 1 in 3,800.

• Ten countries have 60 per cent of the global maternal deaths: India (56,000), Nigeria (40,000), Democratic Republic of the Congo (15,000), Pakistan (12,000), Sudan (10,000), Indonesia (9,600), Ethiopia (9,000), United Republic of Tanzania (8,500), Bangladesh (7,200) and Afghanistan (6,400).

• Ten countries have already reached the MDG target of a 75 per cent reduction in maternal death: Belarus, Bhutan, Equatorial Guinea, Estonia, Iran, Lithuania, Maldives, Nepal, Romania and Viet Nam.

Read the full press release here.

Read the full report here.

Join the conversation on Twitter at hashtag: #motherhood #MMR2012

Over the past few years, the global health community has witnessed and contributed to the publication of more frequent and more technically advanced estimates for maternal mortality than ever before. This report adds to the growing body of evidence that is helping the maternal health community to measure and better understand the scope and trends of the problem. It is an exciting time in the field–and we encourage you to read the new report.