Although deaths among women who had died before, during, or after giving birth have been down significantly since 1990, only nine countries had met the United Nations’ development goal of reducing this figure.
The U.N. and the World Bank announced Thursday that maternal death had dropped 43 percent between 1990 and 2015, due to factors such as improved healthcare services during pregnancy and childbirth, family planning, and sexual and reproductive health services. In 2000, U.N. member states had pledged to reduce maternal death by at least 75 percent by 2015, as part of the organization’s Millennium Development Goals initiative. Maternal mortality is defined as a woman’s death while in pregnancy, childbirth, or within six weeks after a child’s birth.
Only nine nations – Bhutan, Cambodia, Cape Verde, East Timor, Iran, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, and Rwanda – reduced maternal mortality by 78 percent to 90 percent. Globally, maternal mortality was down 43 percent to about 303,000 in 2015 from approximately 532,000 in 1990. That’s about 216 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in the current year, down from 385 in 1990.
Among different regions in the world, East Asia had the biggest drop in maternal deaths, falling from 90 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to only 27 per 100,000 in 2015.
New thresholds adopted by the U.N. in September as part of the new Sustainable Development Goals initiative requires maternal deaths to be reduced to less than 60 per 100,000 live births globally. That would necessitate that the pace of the reduction of maternal mortality picks up to about 7.5 percent per year beginning in 2016, more than triple the 2.3 percent pace of improvement between 1990 and 2015.