today's Pick
Maternal deaths rates falling, but not fast enough: WHO
Publish Date: May 07, 2014
Maternal deaths rates falling, but not fast enough: WHO
  • mail
  • img
newvision

GENEVA - Global maternal deaths have fallen sharply in recent decades, but women in sub-Saharan Africa are still by far the most likely to perish while pregnant, the World Health Organization has said.

Fresh WHO statistics show the number of maternal deaths worldwide fell to 289,000 last year, down 45 percent from 1990, when an estimated 523,000 women died during pregnancy or childbirth.

While this marks a big step forward, the UN's health agency stressed it was far from good enough.

"There is still one woman dying every one and a half to two minutes somewhere in the world ... because she is trying to give life," said Marleen Temmerman, who heads the WHO's department of reproductive health and co-authored the report.

"That is like having two airplanes crashing every day," she told reporters in Geneva, insisting "this should be much higher on the agenda".

The WHO report emphasises that the dangers of childbearing are still felt far more acutely in the developing world, and in sub-Saharan Africa especially, than in wealthy countries.

While a woman in Chad faces a one in 15 risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth during her lifetime, the risk is more than 1,000 times smaller for a woman in Finland, the statistics show.

African nations are heavily represented among the 10 countries that account for around 60 percent of all maternal deaths globally, including Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Several African nations meanwhile also figure among those who had succeeded in slashing their maternal mortality rates the most in the past 23 years, WHO said.

Rwanda, Equatorial Guinea and Eritrea were among a select group of only 11 countries, mainly in Asia, that have reduced maternal deaths by over 75 percent since 1990, thus reaching the Millennium Development Goal target ahead of the 2015 deadline.

- US mortality rates jump -

Most countries however are unlikely to meet that target by next year, Temmerman said, calling for far more investment in care for expecting mothers.

Expanding family planning and access to contraception is also vital to help avoid unwanted pregnancies, especially among teens, at far greater risk of complications.

The new WHO report provides a startling new overview of the reasons women die during pregnancy and childbirth.

It shows that 28 percent of the deaths are linked to pre-existing medical conditions, like diabetes, malaria, HIV or obesity, exacerbated by pregnancy.

Severe bleeding, mainly during and after childbirth, is the second leading cause,accounting for 27 percent of the deaths, the report shows.

"Integrated care for women with conditions like diabetes and obesity will reduce deaths and prevent long-lasting health problems," Temmerman said.

A number of wealthy countries have seen an increase in maternal mortality rates, with the rate in the United States for instance jumping 136 percent to 28 deaths for 100,000 live births last year.

In Canada, the number of deaths also shot up 81 percent to 11 deaths for 100,000 live births in 2013.

The report did not provide an explanation for the hikes, but WHO scientist Colin Mathers stressed such countries had started off with low numbers so the statistical changes were not as significant, and were likely largely explained by improved reporting methods for maternal deaths.

Temmerman hinted though that women waiting longer and having children in wealthy nations might explain some increases in maternal deaths.

"Older age in pregnant women contributes to a higher risk for diabetes, and more hypertension-related problems," she said, pointing out that "there are issues with being pregnant too young, but also being pregnant too old."

RELATED ARTICLES

Maternal health activists appeal to court

Maternal deaths: Shortage of midwives derailing fight

Maternal health still an issue - study

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Busia district chairman kicked out of office
The Minister of Local Government, Adolf Mwesige, has ordered the embattled Busia district chairman, Adea Ouma, out of office....
Health workers death toll mounts in W.Africa as Ebola spreads
Nigeria's health minister will hold an emergency meeting of state health commissioners on Monday as West Africa struggles to halt the deadly Ebola virus, amid growing concern at the toll among healthcare workers...
Nuns go public for first time in 150 years
A group of Ecuadoran nuns opened the doors of their convent to the outside world Saturday - a first since the order arrived in the South American country 150 years ago....
New test fast-tracks diagnosis for malaria
A new invention can cheaply and accurately diagnose malaria infection in just a few minutes using only a droplet of blood....
Fears for Lesotho
The attempted assassination of a top military commander plunged Lesotho into further turmoil Sunday, following an apparent coup that forced the prime minister to flee to neighbouring South Africa....
Large explosion, gunfire at Somalia
Suspected Shebab militants attacked Somalia's intelligence headquarters and detention facility in central Mogadishu on Sunday, setting off a bomb and opening fire on the complex, police and witnesses said...
Do you think banning the sale of single cigarette sticks will help regulate tobacco production?
yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter