A UN report (PDF) released last week shows that worldwide maternal deaths declined by 47 percent from 1990 to 2010. In 1990, there were 543,000 maternal deaths and that number dropped to 287,000 in 2010. The report found that 99 percent of maternal deaths occurred in developing countries and one third of all maternal deaths occurred in India and Nigeria. It also states that most of maternal deaths were preventable.
Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the UN Population Fund said "I am very pleased to see that the number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth continues to decline. This shows that the enhanced effort of countries, supported by UNFPA and other development partners, is paying off. But we can't stop there. Our work must continue to make every pregnancy wanted and every childbirth safe."
The report defines maternal death as death "occurring during pregnancy or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management, but not from accidental or incidental causes." The study was conducted by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund, the United Nations Population Fund, and the World Bank.
Media Resources: New York Times 5/16/12; AP 5/16/12; UN News Service 5/16/12