The research team also observed a positive relationship with economic and educational factors, leading the authors to say "it will be very difficult to improve health without taking both these factors into consideration". "Education, above all for women, is higher in countries with a lower maternal mortality rate", concludes lvarez.
Maternal mortality around the world
In 2000, the United Nations estimated that the number of women who died during pregnancy or shortly after birth at 529,000 (almost one maternal death per minute), of which less than 1% occurred in industrialised countries. The majority of the causes of these deaths have been medically preventable for decades, and do not usually occur during the birth itself, but in the days afterwards.
The main reasons why pregnant women do not attend health centres to receive maternal-infant care, especially in rural areas, are the cost, fear, having previously received poor treatment, the waiting times, shame and the distance to the closest health centre.
According to the United Nations, the three countries with the highest maternal death rates are India (136,000), Nigeria (37,000) and Afghanistan (20,000). The highest maternal mortality rates are in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan, with 2,000 and 1,900 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births, respectively. The lowest rates are in Australia and Iceland, at four and 10, respectively.
In 2003, the WHO, UNICEF and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) produced the world maternal mortality index. The average in Africa is 400 deaths for every 100,000 live births, in industrialised countries 20 per 100,000, and in developing countries 440 per 100,000.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology