• From 1990 to 2015, the number of maternal deaths worldwide dropped from more than 532,000 to 303,000—a decline of 44%. While substantial progress has been achieved, only nine countries reduced their maternal mortality ratio by at least 75% between 1990 and 2015.  About 99% of the world’s maternal deaths occur in developing regions, with Sub-Saharan Africa alone accounting for two in three (66%) deaths.

    Many countries continue to be burdened by these high rates of maternal mortality and high fertility, which are closely linked to high infant mortality and gender inequality. More than a fourth of girls and women in Sub-Saharan African cannot access family planning services, fueling unplanned pregnancies and maternal mortality and morbidity. The lack of women empowerment in sexual and reproductive rights makes them more vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

    Child mortality rates have plummeted since 1990. Under-five deaths have dropped from 12.7 million per year in 1990 to 5.9 million in 2015. Although the global progress has been substantial, 16,000 children under five still die every day. A child’s chance of survival is still vastly different based on where he or she is born: Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest under-five mortality rate in the world with one child in 12 dying before his or her fifth birthday—more than 12 times higher than the one in 147 average in high-income countries.

    This also extends beyond survival to making sure that all children thrive by meeting their full nutritional and development needs. Better early childhood nutrition, early stimulation and early learning programs extend school completion and improve learning outcomes, and in turn, increase adult wages.

    Ensuring that every woman and child has access to health care is fundamental to ending poverty, building robust economies, and achieving UHC. However, there’s still much to be done for the reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCAH) agenda. Many countries continue to be burdened by high rates of maternal mortality and high fertility, which are closely linked to high infant mortality and gender inequality. To help push this agenda and harmonize fragmented RMNCAH approaches, the WBG and partners launched the Global Financing Facility (GFF) in 2015, a multi-stakeholder partnership that supports country-led efforts to improve the health of women, children, and adolescents. The objectives of the GFF, a new financing model, are to achieve measurable and equitable results and close the financing gap for RMNCAH. The annual amount of additional financing required has been estimated at more than $33 billion in 2015. This amount will prevent the deaths of an estimated 24-38 million women, children, and adolescents by 2030.

    Another key effort is the Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend (SWEDD) project, which was approved by the World Bank Group Board in December 2014. SWEDD is improving women’s and girls’ reproductive health and, their education and set of skills, consequently improving their competitiveness in the labor market in Burkina Faso, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Mauritania, Mali and Niger. Specifically, the effort is generating demand for reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition commodities and services; improving the supply of commodities and qualified personnel; and strengthening advocacy and policy dialogue, as well as capacity for monitoring and policymaking in relation to demographic dividends.

    Last Updated: Jun 16, 2017


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