Maternal Mortality Has Fallen by Nearly 50 Percent, but There’s Still a Whole Lot of Progress to be Made

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babiesAn estimated 303,000 women died as a result of complications during pregnancy or childbirth in 2015. That is a lot of women and a lot of devastated families, but that number is a dramatic reduction from the 532,000 who died because of pregnancy or childbirth complications 25 years ago.

According to the BBC, the World Health Organization says that maternal mortality has dropped by 44 percent since 1990. There is still a long way to go, particularly in the developing world, but that reduction indicates enormous scientific and medical progress.

“This report will show that by the end of 2015 maternal mortality will have dropped by 44% from its levels from 1990,” said Dr. Lale Say, coordinator for reproductive health and research at the World Health Organization.

The research looked at maternal mortality trends in 183 countries and analysts report that 2015 will see 216 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015, compared with 385 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990.

Still, those numbers fall short of the UN’s goals for maternal mortality, which are just 70 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2030. Making that goal in the next 15 years will take a lot of work, and will require significant advances in medical care and the number of healthcare workers in poor and developing areas. 99 percent of maternal deaths this year will occur in the developing world, and most of those could be prevented with improved access to midwives and healthcare facilities.

“Many countries with high maternal death rates will make little progress, or will fall behind, over the next 15 years if we don’t improve the current number of available midwives and other health workers with midwifery skills,” said Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, executive director of the UN Population Fund. “If we don’t make a big push now, in 2030 we’ll be faced, once again, with a missed target for reducing maternal deaths.”