India accounts for 22 per cent of global maternal deaths
India’s dismal record shows its low level of commitment in reducing maternal deaths that are considered to be the best marker of a country’s health system. About 99 per cent of global maternal deaths (5,36,000 in 2005) occurred in the developing countries. According to the report, Africa and Asia account for 95 per cent of maternal and 90 per cent of neonatal deaths.
Early marriage and pregnancy, HIV and AIDS, sexual violence and other gender-related abuses also increase the risk that adolescent girls will drop out of school. This, in turn, entrenches the vicious cycle of gender discrimination, poverty and high rates of maternal and neonatal mortality, it further reveals.
Educating girls and young women is one of the most powerful ways of breaking the poverty trap and creating a supportive environment for maternal and newborn health.
However, despite dismal show, some countries like Niger, Malawi and Bangladesh have made excellent progress over the past few years in reducing the number of deaths
Advances in maternal and neonatal health have not matched those of child survival, which registered a 27 per cent reduction in the global under-five mortality rate between 1990 and 2007, according to the UNICEF report.
As the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals draws closer, the challenge for improving maternal and newborn health goes beyond meeting the goals; it lies in preventing needless human tragedy. Success will be measured in terms of lives saved and lives improved.
The divide between industrialized countries and developing regions – particularly the least developed countries – is perhaps greater on maternal mortality than on almost any other issue. This claim is borne out by the numbers: Based on 2005 data, the average lifetime risk of a woman in a least developed country dying from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth is more than 300 times greater than for a woman living in an industrialized country. No other mortality rate is so unequal.
The divide in neonatal deaths between the industrialized countries and developing regions is also wide. Based on 2004 data, a child born in a least developed country is almost 14 times more likely to die during the first 28 days of life than one born in an industrialized country.
Millions of women who survive childbirth suffer from pregnancy related injuries, infections, diseases and disabilities, often with lifelong consequences. The truth is that most of these deaths and conditions are preventable – research has shown that approximately 80 per cent of maternal deaths could be averted if women had access to essential maternity and basic health-care services.
Deaths of newborns in developing countries have also received far too little attention. Almost 40 per cent of under-five deaths – or 3.7 million in 2004, according to the latest World Health Organization estimates – occur in the first 28 days of life. Three quarters of neonatal deaths take place in the first seven days, the early neonatal period; most of these are also preventable.
Please see the links below to know more about the UNICEF report and to access additional information: