Helping Mothers Survive Childbirth


November 18, 2015

Mothers dying during pregnancy, childbirth or within 6 weeks after birth (known as maternal mortality), has fallen by 44% since 1990, United Nations agencies and the World Bank Group recently reported.

These deaths around the world dropped from about 532,000 in 1990 to an estimated 303,000 this year, according to the report, the last in a series that has looked at progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).


A family losing their mother in such circumstances is left emotionally, physically and financially devastated. The consequences include grief, economic loss and a host of other difficulties, including negative impacts on the health and well being of surviving children.

The announcement and implementation of the new global goals have been influenced by the results of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs (the previous set of goals for the world set by the UN) provided a to-do list for the world in order to alleviate poverty and improve lives, beginning in the year 2000 and ending this year.

This new report from the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group, and the United Nations Population Division shows the effectiveness of the MDGs in reducing the number of women who die from complications during pregnancy and childbirth. The study extended beyond the MDG era, looking at numbers of pregnancy-related deaths beginning in 1990, and found a reduction in deaths of 44 percent over the past 25 years.

WHO MMRStill, there is improvement to be made.

In 2015, there were 216 deaths for every 100,000 live births. The goal for 2030 is to reduce that number to fewer than 70 per 100,000 live births.

“Over the past 25 years, a woman’s risk of dying from pregnancy-related causes has nearly halved. That’s real progress, although it is not enough. We know that we can virtually end these deaths by 2030 and this is what we are committing to work towards,” says Dr. Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General, Family, Women’s, and Children’s Health.

The solution will be a greater focus on supporting women’s rights, including access to quality care before, during, and after childbirth.

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You can read more from the report from WHO. Show your support of our partner Every Woman Every Child, which focuses the world’s work to address major health challenges facing women, children and adolescents by sharing this article on your social media channels.


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