Every day, 800 women and 18,000 young children die from mostly preventable causes, and more than half of these deaths take place in high-risk areas of conflict and natural disaster, according to Save the Children’s new State of the World’s Mothers Report. This annual ranking of the health and well-being of mothers and children worldwide focuses on the impact of humanitarian crisis on maternal, newborn, and child health, and lists the best and worst places to be a mother.
Through rankings of 178 countries, the report finds that Finland is the best place to be a mother. Somalia is the most dangerous place to give birth, followed by nine other African countries including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and the Central African Republic. Every year since the rankings were first compiled in 2000, the majority of countries at the bottom have been in the midst of, or emerging from, a recent humanitarian crisis. Beyond emergencies, many of these countries face ongoing issues due to weak health infrastructures and lack of access to quality health care.
The United States is ranked 31, and has made little progress since 2000 on maternal and child survival. The risk that a 15 year-old girl in the United States will die in her lifetime from complications due to pregnancy or childbirth have increased by 50%, and American women face the same risk of maternal death as those in Iran and Romania.
Solutions exist to meet the health and survival needs of mothers, newborns, and children in crisis settings. For example, the Minimum Initial Service Package (MISP) for Reproductive Health recommends a set of priority interventions, including providing safe delivery kits, establishing referral systems for obstetric emergencies, and investing in nutrition for infants and children. The soon-to-be-released Every Newborn Action Plan also contains specific recommendations for improving care at birth and for small and sick infants.
The State of the World’s Mothers set of recommendations include:
- Ensuring that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high quality health care;
- Investing in women and girls and ensuring their protection;
- Building longer term resilience to minimize the damaging effects of crises on health;
- Designing emergency interventions with a longer term view and the specific needs of mothers and newborns in mind; and
- Ensuring political engagement and adequate financing, coordination, and research around maternal and newborn health in crisis settings.
To read the full report, click here.