News / Health

Strides Made in Reducing Maternal Mortality Worldwide

Researchers say maternal mortality has dropped significantly in developing countries thanks to concerted efforts by nations to drive down the number of mothers who die of pregnancy-related complications.  At the same time, a new report says maternal mortality has risen in some developed countries.  

Between 1980 and 2008, the number of women dying during or soon after childbirth fell by more 35 percent worldwide, according to a study carried out by researchers at the University of Washington in Seattle.  

In a survey of 181 nations, researchers say the number of deaths dropped from roughly 500,000 to about 343,000 per year during a nearly 30 year period, falling by about 1.4 percent each year.

Christopher Murray of the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation led the study.

He credits increased education of women in developing countries, an increased number of whom are now giving birth in hospitals.

"A second factor has been the continued decline all over the world of fertility rates," Murray added.  "And fertility rates are strongly associated with maternal mortality.  And that, combined with rising levels of income, are the key factors that are bringing maternal mortality down."

Using vital registration information, census data, surveys and autopsy reports to determine the maternal death rate, researchers found that maternal mortality dropped from 422 per 100,000 births nearly 30 years ago to 251 in 2008.

The nations making the biggest strides included Egypt, Ecuador and Bolivia.  Researchers say China also had a steep drop in maternal mortality, from 165 to 40 deaths per 100,000.

Italy had the lowest maternal mortality rate in 2008.  Researchers found that only four in 100,000 women there died of pregnancy-related complications.

But in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa, maternal mortality rate rose, including in Zimbabwe - the worst performing nation - which posted a 5.5 percent annual increase since 1990.

Almost 80 percent of all maternal deaths were concentrated in 21 countries in 2008; nearly half were in only six countries - India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

HIV played an unexpected role, according to Christopher Murray, who says the sexually transmitted disease has slowed efforts to reduce the maternal mortality rate in some African countries.  

Dr. Murray says the AIDS virus was responsible for more than 64,000 of the 343,000 maternal deaths in 2008.

"And I think this is very important for future policy on maternal health because we haven't made a strong connection between HIV care and maternal health before," added Murray.  "And that's clearly what needs to happen in those regions."

Maternal mortality rates increased during the near 30 year period in some Western countries, notably in the United States, which saw a nearly 42 percent increase from 12 to 17 deaths per 100,000 women since 1990.  Dr. Murray says the increase is likely due to better record keeping.

He says developing countries are on their way toward meeting the United Nations' Millennium Development goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent worldwide by 2015.

The University of Washington's Christopher Murray says the next step is to study why some countries were so successful in driving down their maternal mortality rates and apply those lessons in other nations.

The study on global maternal mortality rates is published in the medical journal The Lancet.

You May Like

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid