Improve Maternal Health

MDG Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health

Goal 5.A: Reduce maternal mortality ratio by 3/4

The following information is from the UN Millennium Development Goals – Maternal web site

5. A Reduce by three quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio

  • Maternal mortality has nearly halved since 1990. An estimated 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010 worldwide, a decline of 47 per cent from 1990. All regions have made progress but accelerated interventions are required in order to meet the target. This still falls far short of the MDG target of reducing by three quarters.

  • In Eastern Asia, Northern Africa and Southern Asia, maternal mortality has declined by around two-thirds

  • Nearly 50 million babies worldwide are delivered without skilled care

  • The maternal mortality ratio in developing regions is still 15 times higher than in the developed regions

  • The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed

Universal access to reproductive health

5. B Achieve universal access to reproductive health

  • More women are receiving antenatal care. In developing regions, antenatal care increased from 63 per cent in 1990 to 81 per cent in 2011

  • Only half of women in developing regions receive the recommended amount of health care they need

  • Fewer teens are having children in most developing regions, but progress has slowed

  • The large increase in contraceptive use in the 1990s was not matched in the 2000s

  • The need for family planning is slowly being met for more women, but demand is increasing at a rapid pace

  • Official Development Assistance for reproductive health care and family planning remains low

Fast Facts

  • Only half of pregnant women in developing regions receive the recommended minimum of four antenatal care visits

  • Complications during pregnancy or childbirth are one of the leading causes of death for adolescent girls

  • Some 140 million women worldwide who are married or I union say they would like to delay or avoid pregnancy, but do not have access to voluntary family planning

  • Most maternal deaths in developing countries are preventable through adequate nutrition, proper health care, including access to family planning, the presence of a skilled birth attendant during delivery and emergency obstetric care

  • While progress falls short of achieving MDGs by the 2015 deadline, all regions have made important gains

  • Improving maternal health is also key to achieving MDG 4 of reducing child mortality. Giving good care to women during pregnancy and at the time of childbirth is crucial not only for saving women’s lives but their babies, too

  • Births attended by skilled health personnel have increased; however, disparities in progress within countries and populations groups persist.

  • African countries show wide disparities in maternal and reproductive health. Maternal mortality tends to be lower in countries where levels of contraceptive use and skilled attendance at birth are relatively high.

  • Education for girls is key to reducing maternal mortality. The risk of maternal death is 2.7 times higher among women with no education, and two times higher among women with one to six years of education than for women with more than 12 years of education.

What’s Working

  • Bangladesh: Midwives go back to school. The government has committed to deploying 3,000 midwives by 2015. Supported by UNFPA, Bangladesh is creating a cadre of full-time midwives trained according to international midwifery standards. Hundreds of nurses are now upgrading their knowledge, spending several months in the classroom followed by practical training.

  • India: Cash transfers attract women to safely deliver in health centers. More than two-thirds of all maternal deaths in India occur in just a handful of impoverished states, and the inability to get medical care in time is one of the major factors contributing to this tragedy. UNICEF and its partners are working to avoid these preventable maternal deaths through innovative schemes such as a conditional cash transfer program for women who deliver in health facilities.

  • Rwanda: SMS saves lives. The UNICEF-supported Rapid SMS system helps community health workers track pregnancies, report on danger signs during pregnancy, and subscribe to emergency alerts to ensure that women can access emergency obstetric card if complications occur. The system also provides a real-time national surveillance mechanism for maternal health.

  • Sierra Leone: Free health care yields huge gains. A year after the launch in 2010 of the Free Health Care initiative for women and children under five years old, there was a 150 per cent improvement in maternal complications managed in health facilities and a 61 per cent reduction in the maternal mortality rate.

  • Somalia: National plan reduces maternal and child mortality. Spacing births more widely can dramatically reduce maternal mortality and improve the chances that children will survive. The Somali Reproductive Health National Strategy and Action Plan focuses on three priorities: birth spacing, safe deliver and addressing harmful practices like female genital mutilation. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been working with a consortium of international NGOs, UNFPA and UNICER to support the authorities.