In April, the Lancet published new maternal mortality estimates (out of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) that showed a significant reduction in global maternal deaths, shaking up the global health community’s understanding of the global burden of the issue–and providing new hope. The report also illustrated the important links between HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality.
In the wake of the Lancet report, maternal health professionals from various organizations engaged in robust dialogue (like this one) about measurement methodologies–and raised questions about when the World Health Organization would release their estimates and how they might differ from the IHME estimates.
On September 15th, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank released their new maternal mortality estimates in a report, Trends in maternal mortality. Their report also showed a significant drop in maternal deaths—a 34% decrease between 1990 and 2008.
Excerpt from the WHO press release:
“The new estimates show that it is possible to prevent many more women from dying. Countries need to invest in their health systems and in the quality of care.
‘Every birth should be safe and every pregnancy wanted,’ says Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA. ‘The lack of maternal health care violates women’s rights to life, health, equality, and non-discrimination. MDG5 can be achieved,’ she adds, ‘but we urgently need to address the shortage of health workers and step up funding for reproductive health services’…”
More highlights from the report:
- Ten out of 87 countries with maternal mortality ratios equal to or over 100 in 1990, are on track with an annual decline of 5.5% between 1990 and 2008. At the other extreme, 30 made insufficient or no progress since 1990.
- The study shows progress in sub-Saharan Africa where maternal mortality decreased by 26%.
- In Asia, the number of maternal deaths is estimated to have dropped from 315 000 to 139 000 between 1990 and 2008, a 52% decrease.
- 99% of all maternal deaths in 2008 occurred in developing regions, with sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounting for 57% and 30% of all deaths respectively.