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Trends in Maternal Mortality: UN

  • 24 Feb 2023
  • 6 min read

Prelims: Issues Related to Women, Maternal Mortality Ratio, SDG.

Mains: Trends in Maternal Mortality: UN.

Why in News?

According to the United Nations’ (UN) new report “Trends in Maternal Mortality”, of the estimated 287,000 maternal deaths recorded in 2020, 70 % took place in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) — deaths per lakh live births — in the region was at a dangerous high of 545, many times greater than the world average of 223.

What are the Key Findings of the Report?

  • Statistics:
    • Every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, revealing alarming setbacks for women’s health over recent years, as maternal deaths either increased or stagnated in nearly all regions of the world.
    • There were an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths worldwide in 2020, which is a slight decrease from 309,000 in 2016 when the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into effect.
    • Although there has been significant progress in reducing maternal deaths between 2000 and 2015, gains largely stalled, or in some cases even reversed, after this point.
  • MMR:
    • In 2020, about 70% of all maternal deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa.
    • The top three sub-regions in the world with a high or very high MMR were found in sub-Saharan Africa,
      • Western Africa at 754, middle Africa at 539 and eastern Africa at 351.
      • On the country level, a similar trend was seen with South Sudan (1,223), Chad (1,063) and Nigeria (1,047) recording an extremely high — greater than 1,000 — MMR.
    • With approximately 82,000 maternal deaths in 2020, Nigeria accounted for over a quarter (28.5%) of all estimated global maternal deaths in the pandemic year.
    • From 2000 to 2020, declines in the MMR stagnated in sub-Saharan Africa, northern Africa, Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) and western Asia, and eastern and south-eastern Asia.
  • Causes of Maternal Deaths:
    • Severe bleeding, high blood pressure, pregnancy-related infections, complications from unsafe abortion, and underlying conditions that can be aggravated by pregnancy (such as HIV/AIDS and malaria) are the leading causes of maternal deaths.
      • Globally, 1,878 HIV-related indirect maternal deaths were recorded, of which 1,738 (around 92.5%) were in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Healthcare Gaps:
    • Roughly a third of women do not have even four of a recommended eight antenatal checks or receive essential postnatal care, while some 270 million women lack access to modern family planning methods.
  • Risks:
    • Inequities related to income, education, race or ethnicity further increase risks for marginalized pregnant women, who have the least access to essential maternity care but are most likely to experience underlying health problems in pregnancy.

What are the Findings Related to India?

  • India recorded the second highest number of maternal deaths in 2020, coming second at 24,000 to only Nigeria.
  • However, there has been an overall reduction of 73.5% in MMR in India, between 2000 and 2020.
  • In 2020, India’s MMR stood at 103, a vast improvement from 384 at the turn of the century.
    • In comparison, other developing countries like Argentina (45 in 2020), Bhutan (60), Brazil (72), Kyrgyzstan (50) and Philippines (78) have performed better than India.

What are the Recommendations?

  • More Resilient Health System:
    • With immediate action, more investments in primary health care and stronger, more resilient health systems, we can save lives, improve health and well-being, and advance the rights of and opportunities for women and adolescents.
  • Community-centered Health Care:
    • Community-centered primary health care can meet the needs of women, children and adolescents and enable equitable access to critical services such as assisted births and pre- and postnatal care, childhood vaccinations, nutrition and family planning.
  • Control over Reproductive Health:
    • Exercising control over their reproductive health, particularly decisions about if and when to have children, is critical to ensure that women can plan and space childbearing and protect their health.
  • National and International Efforts:
    • Ending preventable maternal deaths and providing universal access to quality maternal health care require sustained national and international efforts and unwavering commitments, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.
    • It is our collective responsibility to ensure that every mother, everywhere, survives childbirth, so that she and her children can thrive.
  • Meeting Global Targets:
    • The world must significantly accelerate progress to meet global targets for reducing maternal deaths, or else risk the lives of over 1 million more women by 2030.
      • The SDG target for maternal deaths is for a global MMR of less than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Source: DTE

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