News

Countdown to 2015 Report: Fewer Maternal/Child Deaths; Too Many Still Dying

Countdown to 2015 launches its 2012 Report on June 14, 2012, at the Child Survival Call to Action, a two-day high-level meeting in Washington, D.C. 

Countdown’s new report, Building a Future for Women and Children: The 2012 Report, highlights country progress—and obstacles to progress—towards achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. It focuses, like previous Countdown reports, on evidence-based solutions—health interventions proven to save lives—and on the health systems, policies, financing and other factors that affect the equitable delivery of these lifesaving interventions to women and children. Updated country profiles for 75 Countdown countries were published together with the report.

Country-by-country data gathered and analyzed for the 2012 report highlight progress, and show where greater efforts are needed, in the 75 countries that account for more than 95% of all maternal and child deaths:

  • Annual maternal deaths are down by 47 percent over the past two decades. Nine Countdown countries are on track to meet MDG 5, but more than a third of the Countdown countries have made little, if any progress.
  • In efforts to reduce deaths of children under age 5, 23 Countdown countries are expected to achieve MDG 4. But 13 countries have made no progress in reducing child deaths.
  • Forty percent of child deaths occur during the first month of life: most of these deaths are preventable through better nutrition and access to health services before, during, and immediately after childbirth.
  • More than 10 percent of all babies are born too soon; complications due to preterm birth are the leading cause of newborn deaths and the second leading cause of child deaths.
  • Inadequate nutrition is a crisis in most Countdown countries, contributing to more than 1/3 of child deaths and 1/5 of maternal deaths, and to stunting of more than 1 in 3 children in the majority of Countdown countries.
  • High coverage levels for vaccines (averaging over 80%) and rapid progress in distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets show what is possible with political commitment and financial investment, but progress is much slower for skilled attendant at birth and other interventions that require a strong health system.
  • Across virtually all Countdown countries, poor people have less access to health services than richer people, and geographic and urban/rural inequities also highlight the importance of using coverage data to support countries in delivering services and allocating resources where they are most need.

Countdown to 2015 is a multi-disciplinary, multi-institutional collaboration that tracks, stimulates, and supports country progress on maternal, newborn, and child survival. It calls on governments and development partners to be accountable, identifies knowledge gaps, and proposes new actions to achieve MDGs 4 and 5, to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. It presents data on coverage levels, trends, and equity of coverage for health interventions proven to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health, as well as on critical determinants of coverage including health systems functionality, health policies, and financing.

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