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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora