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

Yemen Brings US, Iran Closer to Naval Face-off

US sending two more ships to waters off coast of Yemen to take part in 'maritime security operations' More

Minorities Become Majority Across US

From 2000 to 2013, minorities became the majority in 78 counties in the United States. Here's where those demographic shifts are happening More

Japan's Maglev Train Breaks Own Speed Record

Seven-car 'magnetic levitation' train traveled at more than 600 kilometers per hour during test run Tuesday 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.
New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Paini
X
Shelley Schlender
April 20, 2015 7:03 PM
Pain has a purpose - it can stop you from touching a flame or from walking on a broken leg. As an injury heals, the pain goes away. Usually. But worldwide, one out of every five people suffers from pain that lasts for months and years, leading to lost jobs, depression, and rising despair when medical interventions fail or health experts hint that a pain sufferer is making it up. From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Italy Rescues Migrants After Separate Deadly Capsize Incident

Italy continued its massive search and rescue operation in the Mediterranean Monday for the capsized boat off the coast of Libya that was carrying hundreds of migrants, while at the same time rescuing Syrian migrants from another vessel off the coast of Sicily. Thirteen children were among the 98 Syrian migrants whose boat originated from Turkey on the perilous journey to Europe.
Video

Video New Test Set to Be Game Changer in Eradicating Malaria

The World Health Organization estimates 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with children under the age of five and pregnant women being the most vulnerable. As World Malaria Day approaches (April 25), mortality rates are falling, and a new test -- well into the last stage of trials -- is having positive results in Kenya. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA from Nairobi.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.

VOA Blogs