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Thursday, July 25, 2024

Every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, reports UN

A woman dies every two minutes during pregnancy or childbirth, according to the latest estimates published in a report by UN agencies, which stress that the world must significantly accelerate progress to meet global targets to reduce maternal mortality or risk the lives of more than one million women by 2030.

The “Trends in Maternal Mortality” report released Thursday by WHO, Unicef, UNFPA, the World Bank and the United Nations Population Division reveals alarming setbacks for women’s health in recent years, as maternal mortality has either increased or stagnated in almost every region of the world.

“It is unacceptable that so many women continue to die needlessly during pregnancy and childbirth. More than 280,000 deaths in a single year is unacceptable,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem.

“We can and must do better by urgently investing in family planning and filling the global shortage of 900,000 midwives to

every woman can get the life-saving care she needs. We have the tools, knowledge and resources to end preventable maternal deaths; what we need now is political will.”

In two of the eight UN regions – Europe and North America and Latin America and the Caribbean – maternal mortality increased by 17 percent and 15 percent from 2016 to 2020, respectively. Elsewhere, the rate stagnated.

However, the report notes that progress is possible. Two regions – Australia and New Zealand and Central and South Asia – saw significant declines (by 35% and 16%) in maternal mortality over the same period, as did 31 countries worldwide.

“While pregnancy should be a time of immense hope and positive experience for all women, it is tragically still a shocking experience for millions around the world who do not have access to high-quality and respectful health care,” said WHO Director-General Dr Tedros. Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

The report, which tracks maternal deaths at national, regional and global levels from 2000 to 2020, shows that in 2020 there were an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths worldwide. This represents only a slight decrease from 309,000 in 2016, when the Sustainable Development Goals came into effect. While the report shows some significant progress in reducing maternal mortality between 2000 and 2015, after that point gains have largely stalled or even reversed in some cases.

The report states that roughly a third of women do not have even four of the eight recommended prenatal visits or do not receive necessary postpartum care, while some 270 million women do not have access to modern family planning methods. Exercising control over their reproductive health – especially deciding whether and when to have children – is essential to ensure that women can plan and manage childbirth and protect their health.

Inequities related to income, education, race, or ethnicity further increase risks for marginalized pregnant women, who have the least access to basic maternal care but are most likely to experience health problems during pregnancy.

“For millions of families, the miracle of childbirth is marred by the tragedy of maternal death,” said UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell. “No mother should fear for her life when giving birth to a child, especially when the knowledge and tools exist to treat common complications.

In overall numbers, maternal deaths continue to be largely concentrated in the poorest parts of the world and in conflict-affected countries. In 2020, about 70 percent of all maternal deaths were in sub-Saharan Africa. In nine countries facing severe humanitarian crises, maternal mortality was more than double the global average.

“This report provides another stark reminder of the urgent need to redouble our commitment to women’s and adolescent health,” said Juan Pablo Uribe, World Bank Global Director for Health, Nutrition and Population and Director of the Global Financing Facility. .

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