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Maternal Mortality Declining in Middle-income Countries; Women Still Die in Pregnancy and Childbirth in Low-income Countries
Date:10/11/2007

World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA, The World Bank

Strictly embargoed until: 00.01 GMT, Friday, 12 October

GENEVA and NEW YORK, Oct. 11 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The world's maternal mortality ratio (the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) is declining too slowly to meet Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5, which aims to improve maternal health and prevent women from dying in pregnancy and childbirth.

While an annual decline of 5.5 per cent in maternal mortality ratios between 1990 and 2015 is required to achieve MDG 5, figures released today by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and The World Bank show an annual decline of less than 1 per cent. In 2005, 536,000 women died of maternal causes, compared to 576,000 in 1990. Ninety-nine per cent of these deaths occurred in developing countries.

Maternal mortality indicators show the greatest gap between rich and poor countries among all other health measures. The maternal mortality ratio in 2005 was highest in developing regions, with 450 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, in stark contrast to 9 in developed regions and 51 in the Countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS). Moreover, the small drop in the global maternal mortality ratio reflects mainly the declines that have taken place in countries with relatively low levels of maternal mortality. Countries with the highest initial levels of mortality have made virtually no progress over the past 15 years.

The new maternal mortality estimates show that while gains are being made in middle-income countries, the annual decline between 1990 and 2005 in sub-Saharan Africa was only 0.1 per cent. No region achieved the necessary 5.5 per cent annual decline during the same period, although Eastern Asia came closest to the target with a 4.2 per cent annual decline and Northern Africa, South-Eastern Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean experienced relatively faster declines than sub-Saharan Africa.

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SOURCE World Health Organization; UNICEF; UNFPA; The World Bank
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