From 1990 to 2013, the number of maternal deaths worldwide dropped from more than 540,000 to 289,000 – a decline of 45%. While substantial progress has been achieved in almost all regions, many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, failed to reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 target of reducing maternal mortality by 75% from 1990 to 2015.
One-third of all maternal deaths occur in two countries – in 2013, almost 17% of deaths (50,000) were in India, and 14% (40,000) were in Nigeria. Of the 40 countries with the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality, 36 are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Many low-income 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. More than 1/4 of girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa cannot access family planning services, fueling unplanned pregnancies and spreading HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3, which will go into effect at the end of 2015, the global health community will work to achieve three targets specific to reproductive, maternal and child health:
3.1 By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births.
3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-5 mortality to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.
3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.
Work toward achieving these targets will be conducted in tandem with helping countries achieve universal health coverage, under SDG target 3.8:
3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.
Last Updated: Sep 08, 2015