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WHO Issues New Maternal Mortality Data

May 16 2012 – Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) released new data showing that maternal mortality worldwide has dropped by 47% since 1990. According to the new report, there were 287,000 maternal deaths in 2010 as a result of complications due to pregnancy and childbirth. The new figure is considerably less than the 358,000 maternal deaths that the WHO reported for 2008. The report explains that a vast majority of these deaths occur in resource-poor settings and could be prevented with better access to skilled maternal care.

While the new data point to a promising decline in maternal mortality, they reveal that progress must be accelerated in order to achieve UN Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5), which calls for a 75% reduction in the maternal mortality ratio by 2015. According to the report, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 3.1% per year, between 1990 and 2010. This is far from the annual decline of 5.5% needed to achieve MDG 5.

"This is an important day for the maternal health community," said Dr. Naveen Rao, Lead, Merck for Mothers. "While the latest data provide critical proof that efforts to reduce maternal mortality are working, they also signal that we must intensify our work to close the gap and reach MDG 5. We need to step up our collective efforts to once and for all put an end to the tragic and preventable death of mothers."

The report was developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank. It presents the causes of maternal mortality, shows where the greatest number of maternal deaths are occurring, and points to solutions for reducing the global burden of maternal mortality. A fact sheet on the report can be found here.