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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid