Geneva (ISJ): Despite global decline in maternal deaths, India together with Nigeria accounts for one third of all global maternal deaths. India at 17 per cent (50,000) and Nigeria at 14 per cent (40,000) are amongst the 10 countries that carry most of the burden. These ten countries account for about 60 per cent of the 289,000 global burden of maternal deaths in 2013, which declined by 45 per cent from the 1990 level.
The global maternal mortality rate in 2013 was 210 deaths per 100,000 live births, down from 380 in 1990. Developing regions recorded 14 times higher deaths (230) than developed region (16). Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest regional maternal mortality rate (510).
Another study by World Health Organisation, WHO reveals more than 1 in 4 maternal deaths are caused by pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes, HIV, malaria and obesity, which aggravates by pregnancy. This is almost equal to death due to severe bleeding during pregnancy and childbirth.
??the two reports highlight the need to invest in proven solutions, such as quality care for all women during pregnancy and childbirth, and particular care for pregnant women with existing medical conditions,? said Dr. Flavia Bustreo, Assistant Director General, Family, Women?s and Children?s Health, WHO.
Eleven countries including Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives have already achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of 75 per cent reduction in maternal mortality from the 1990 rate by 2015. Sub-Saharan Africa is still the riskiest region in the world.
?A 15-year-old living in sub-Saharan Africa faces about a 1 in 40 risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth during her lifetime against 1 in 3300 in Europe,? said Dr. Geeta Rao Gupta, Deputy Executive Director, United Nations Children?s Fund (UNICEF).
?More than 15 million girls in the age-bracket of 15 to 19 years give birth every year ? one in five before they turn 18 and many of these pregnancies are from non-consensual sex,? said Ms Kate Gilmore, Deputy Executive Director, UN Population Fund (UNFPA). ?Relatively simple and well-known interventions, like midwifery services and gender-based violence prevention and response, can make a huge difference if scaled up and coupled with investments in innovations, especially in the area of contraceptives.?
Experts feel, there has been too little progress in preventing adolescent pregnancies, abortions, maternal deaths, sexually-transmitted infections and HIV, despite advances in the last 20 years. They noted significant gaps in availability, quality and access to comprehensive sex education and services for young people, especially in low-income countries.
Image courtesy: WHO