World failing mothers in childbirth
Published: 12 October 2007
An international drive to cut the global toll of deaths among women in childbirth has made almost zero progress after 15 years
, experts said yesterday. They blame governments and agencies for seeking a "silver bullet" to solve the problem instead of building up desperately needed local health services.
The World Health Organisation launched its Safe Motherhood initiative 20 years ago but a series of papers, published today in the UK medical journal The Lancet to mark the anniversary, show that the Millennium Development Goal of cutting the maternal death rate by 75 per cent between 1990 and 2015 remains a pipe dream.
Deaths of mothers in childbirth are almost unchanged since 1990. In 2005, 536,000 women died due to complications of pregnancy or labour compared with 576,000 15 years earlier, according to figures published by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, and other agencies today.
Ninety-nine per cent of the deaths occur in the developing world. In sub- Saharan Africa more than 900 women die for every 100,000 live births, a rate 100-fold higher than in Europe where the death rate is nine per 100,000 births.