According to the most recent data from the World Health Organization (WHO), one woman dies every two minutes during pregnancy or childbirth, with too few nations in the globe managing to significantly cut maternal death rates since 2016.
The Trends in Maternal Mortality report revealed that while there was great progress in lowering maternal fatalities between 2000 and 2015, these improvements halted or even reversed in the five years leading up to 2020.
“While pregnancy should be a time of immense hope and a positive experience for all women, it remains tragically shockingly dangerous for millions around the world who lack access to high quality, respectful health care,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus in a statement released on Thursday.
“These new numbers demonstrate the urgent need to guarantee that every woman and girl has access to essential health services before, during, and after childbirth and may fully exercise their reproductive rights.”
In two of the eight United Nations areas – Europe and Northern America and Latin America and the Caribbean – the maternal mortality rate rose by 17 percent and 15 percent, respectively, from 2016 to 2020. Elsewhere, the rate remained static.
Two locations made advancements. In Australia and New Zealand, the maternal mortality rate decreased by 35%, whereas it decreased by 16% in Southern Asia.
“For millions of families, the miracle of childbirth is overshadowed by the sorrow of maternal fatalities,” said Catherine Russell, the executive director of UNICEF. “No mother should worry about her life during childbirth, especially when the knowledge and means to manage common difficulties are available. Equality in healthcare allows every mother, regardless of her background or location, an equal opportunity for a safe birth and a healthy future with her family.”
According to the report, the leading causes of maternal mortality were severe bleeding, high blood pressure, pregnancy-related infections, complications from unsafe abortions, and underlying conditions that can be exacerbated by pregnancy (such as HIV/AIDS and malaria). These conditions were largely preventable and treatable.
Maternal deaths continue to be disproportionately concentrated in the world’s poorest regions and conflict-affected nations.
In 2020, almost 70% of all maternal deaths occurred in southern Africa, while maternal mortality rates in nine countries facing acute humanitarian crises were more than double the worldwide norm (551 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, compared with 223 per 100,000 live births globally).
The United Nations stated that more must be done to assist women’s health by increasing funding for healthcare systems, training more specialized healthcare workers such as midwives, and enhancing supply chains for essential medical goods.
A third of women do not receive even four of the eight recommended antenatal checks or necessary postnatal care, and 270 million women lack access to contemporary family planning methods, according to the research. It stated that COVID-19 may have impeded gains in maternal health but that further research was required to demonstrate the pandemic’s impact.
Natalia Kanem, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, deemed it intolerable that so many women continue to die needlessly during pregnancy and childbirth.
She stated, “More than 280,000 deaths in a single year is outrageous.” We can and must improve. We have the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to eradicate preventable maternal mortality; what we lack is the political will.”