Today, British medical journal, The Lancet, published a report that states that maternal deaths have fallen from 526,300 in 1980 to 342,900 in 2008. This is a 35% decrease over the past 30 years.
It has long been reported that little progress has been made in reducing maternal mortality, which is defined as death of a women during pregnancy, childbirth or in the 42 days after delivery. This surprising news is partly due to improvements in methodology and more accurate reporting.
The reported decline in maternal mortality is also due to the following reasons:
1) Lower pregnancy rates in several countries
2) Higher income, which also leads to lower fertility rates
3) More education for women
4) Improvements in nutrition and access to health care
5) Increasing access to skilled birth attendants
While the report brought good news to the international community and showed that our programs have been effective, it also states that, in some countries, maternal deaths are rising. The countries that account for over half of maternal deaths are: India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest rates of maternal mortality and HIV/AIDS has contributed to the high rates of pregnancy-related deaths. If HIV was not present, the maternal mortality rate worldwide would be even lower at 281,500.
Overall, this report gives Saving Mothers and other organizations hope that our efforts have lead to decreasing maternal deaths worldwide.