News / Health

Report: Millions of Maternal and Child Deaths Can Be Prevented

FILE - A mother carries her baby wrapped in a blanket in Beijing.
FILE - A mother carries her baby wrapped in a blanket in Beijing.
Lisa Schlein
The international aid agency Save the Children says millions of maternal and child deaths can be prevented by improving access to health care and other essential services. The agency’s annual State of the World’s Mothers report ranks 178 countries on how likely mothers are to survive childbirth. 
 
Save the Children reports 800 mothers and 18,000 young children die from largely preventable causes every day. It said more than half of these deaths occur in high-risk places of conflict and natural disaster.
 
The agency’s 2014 Mother’s Index Rankings of 178 countries bears this out.  Finland is the best place to be a mother, followed by other European and Western countries in the top 10.  Somalia is at the bottom, along with nine other African countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, and the Central African Republic, that rank as the worst places for maternal and child survival. 
 
For example, the report notes one Chadian woman in 15 is likely to die because of pregnancy, compared with one Swedish woman in 14,000. And, it notes, a child in Sierra Leone has one chance in five of not living until age five, compared with an Icelandic child, where the risk is one in 435.

The director of Save the Children in Geneva, Anita Bay Bundegaard, told VOA these rankings do not change much from year to year.  She said the same sub-Saharan African countries continue to appear on the bottom of the list. 
 
“They have a recent history of armed conflict. They are considered to be fragile states and many of them are also affected by recurring natural disasters… What we need to ensure in those countries are that mothers and newborns have access to high quality health care… We also need more investment in women and girls to ensure that they are better protected during emergencies,” said Bundegaard.  
 
Bundegaard agrees it is difficult for countries wracked by war, instability and extreme poverty to provide the care needed to save new mothers and young children. But, she said, it can be done if governments have the political will.
 
She cited the examples of Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Nepal, which have greatly reduced mother and child deaths through sustained political and financial commitment. All three are either in conflict or rebuilding from conflicts.
 
She said these countries also have improved access to education for girls, which protects them from getting married at an early age. She said girls who have babies at a young age are at greater risk of dying and losing their babies.
 
“It also a very simple thing like training midwives, to have a very good and high immunization coverage or it can be to remove user fees so that people do not have to pay to get access to health care.  These are some of the things that we have seen in Afghanistan, in Nepal, in Ethiopia where things are considerably changed and improved,” said Bundegaard. 
 
The report notes concerted efforts by Afghanistan and Ethiopia have reduced maternal deaths by almost two-thirds since 2000. The Mothers Index also shows that some Western countries are not doing as well as they should and are falling behind other wealthy countries.
 
It finds the United States, which is ranked 31, is among countries that have made the least progress since 2000 on maternal and child survival. It said the risk that a 15-year-old girl in the U.S. will die during her lifetime from a pregnancy-related cause has increased by over 50 percent since 2000, and American women face the same risk of maternal death as those in Iran or Romania.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs