Lancet Report Indicates Dramatic Drop in Global Maternal Mortality Figures, but Increases in US and Canada
Women Deliver 2010 will push for additional $12B in increased investment from G8 for programs to improve maternal health
April 12, 2010 — A new study in the Lancet reports that maternal deaths have fallen by more than 35 percent over the past 30 years, offering one of the first indicators that investment in maternal health programs is having measurable effects. The Women Deliver conference, June 7-9 in Washington DC, will gather global leaders in a historic effort to push policymakers to build on momentum and increase funding for proven maternal health programs by at least $12 billion per year through 2015.
According to the report, the number of maternal deaths has dropped from 526,300 in 1980 to 342,900 in 2008. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR, or number of women dying for every 100,000 live births) also declined from 422 in 1980 to 251 in 2008. Almost 80 percent of all maternal deaths occurred in 21 countries in 2008, and six countries account for more than half of maternal deaths (India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo). Meanwhile, the MMR in several high-income countries, including the US and Canada, has actually increased.
“While efforts to address the unacceptably high number of mothers, sisters, daughters, and newborns dying everyday are making an impact, these numbers are still far too high,” said Jill Sheffield, President of Women Deliver. “At the G8/G20 this June, policymakers must step up their investments in the maternal health programs that we know save lives. We can all do much more.”
The report examined 181 countries from 1980 through 2008 to assess progress toward Millennium Development Goal 5, which seeks a 75 percent reduction in the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births between 1990 and 2015. Although only 23 countries are on track to achieve MDG 5, countries such as Egypt, China, Ecuador, and Bolivia are showing marked improvement. The study was conducted by a team led by Dr. Christopher Murray, of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.
“The latest figures are, globally, good news. They provide robust reason for optimism,” wrote Richard Horton in a commentary accompanying the article. “More importantly, these numbers should act now as a catalyst, not a break, for accelerated action on MDG-5, including scaled-up resource commitments. Investment incontrovertibly saves the lives of women during pregnancy.”
Women Deliver will highlight current achievements and new opportunities, in maternal health and push for increased funding for the programs that have contributed to the improved figures in this report. These include programs that reduce fertility rates, increase individual incomes, expand maternal education, and widen access to skilled birth attendance. The last three years have seen mounting evidence that improving the health of women is a critical step to achieving all the Millennium Development Goals, with clear economic, political, and security benefits for countries. Women Deliver is expected to be the highest-profile and largest event ever to focus on maternal health and catalyze global action on the issue.
For full Article see: http://press.thelancet.com/mmm.pdf
For full Comment from Richard Horton see: http://press.thelancet.com/mmmrh.pdf