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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs