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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid