Maternal Mortality: Appalling Lack of Progress Globally and in the US
In advance of the upcoming Women Deliver conference in London, a report released Friday shows that worldwide maternal mortality rates have been declining at a rate of less than one percent a year. The report, Maternal Mortality in 2005, jointly published by the World Health Organization, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank, points to the need for improved health care for women, including the prevention of unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions, and access to high-quality pregnancy and delivery care, in order to reduce the number of women dying from maternal causes.
Shockingly, the United States ranks 41st among 171 countries in woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death. One in 4,800 women in the US die each year as a result of pregnancy related complications, much higher than other developed countries. In Germany, for example, the annual rate of maternal death is one in 19,200 and in Greece one in 25,900. Afghan women continue to be among those with the highest number of maternal deaths, with one in 8 women dying annually, reports the Kansas City Star.
The three-day Women Deliver conference, which begins October 18th, will involve political and health leaders from around the world and will focus on the critical connection between women’s health, rights, education, and poverty reduction. It will spotlight how the estimated 536,000 annual maternal deaths—which are overwhelmingly (99 percent) concentrated in the developing world—are not only preventable but have an extraordinary negative impact on the social and economic well-being of nations.