We welcome this good news of declining numbers of mothers’ deaths. It is proof that worldwide, we know what to do to save women’s lives: investing in women pays off.
The bad news is that we aren’t yet doing enough of it, because a thousand women still die every day in pregnancy and childbirth – more than 350,000 every year. Our mission is far from complete.
The great disparities among countries and regions in this report is further proof that where leaders have the political will, they can make progress, even in low-resource areas.
This study is only the most recent of several reports showing the same trend. Differences among the numbers result from differing methods and assumptions and data problems. The differences are less important than the overall agreement on what needs to be done.
America can help. The Global MOMS act introduced to Congress by U.S. Rep. Lois Capps (Democrat of California) would expand women’s access to essential services in countries of greatest need and better coordinate existing programs.
With such investments, there is still hope that many countries can achieve the target set in 2000 by Millennium Development Goal #5: reduce the 1990 levels of maternal deaths by three-quarters by 2015.
According to Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA), “Declining maternal death rates are an indication that we are on the right track, but our work will never be over until all women have access to the tools necessary for safe pregnancy and childbirth. Our next task is investing in the programs we know to be effective and I’m proud to have introduced legislation in the House of Representative to do just that.”
Jill Sheffield is president of Women Deliver, a global advocacy organization bringing together voices from around the world to call for action against maternal death.
- For a copy of the new report, "Trends in Maternal Mortality", released by the World Health Organization, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF and the World Bank, click here.
- For a copy of the joint press release by the World Health Organization, UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF and the World Bank, "Maternal Deaths Worldwide Drop By Third", click here.