- Q: How can improved maternal health reduce poverty?
- A: Investing in better maternal health not only improves a mother’s health and that of her family, but also increases the number of women in the workforce and promotes the economic well-being of communities and countries. Untreated pregnancy and birth complications mean that 10-20 million women become disabled every year, undermining their ability to support their families.
World Bank: We Need to Do More to Help Women
Globally, maternal deaths dropped 45 percent between 1990 and 2013. While substantial progress has been achieved in almost all regions, many countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, will fail to reach the Goal 5 target of reducing maternal mortality by 75 percent from 1990 to 2015. In fact, of all the MDGs, the least progress has been made toward the maternal health goal. Every day, nearly 800 women across the globe die due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth, and 99 percent of these deaths occur in developing countries. Many low-income countries have high rates of maternal mortality and high fertility, which are closely linked to high infant mortality and gender inequality. More than a quarter of girls and women in sub-Saharan Africa cannot access family planning services, fueling unplanned pregnancies and spreading HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Better women’s health is therefore a priority. World Bank Group projects allow women wider access to effective and functioning health systems, with skilled and motivated health workers. Bank investments also support infrastructure and innovations in financing to improve maternal health. Through such investments, the Bank continues to support reproductive health and family planning programs, nutrition initiatives, facility-based deliveries, disease prevention, and new and innovative methods to provide more help to mothers.
- We promote the health of women by:
- educating girls and boys
- reducing teenage pregnancies
- empowering women to space births and choose family size
- improving maternal nutrition
- ensuring trained attendance at deliveries and better access to emergency and comprehensive obstetric, ante-natal and post-partum care
Making Strides in Maternal Health
As a result of support for the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s fund for the poorest countries, from 2003 to 2013 more than 117 million people gained access to essential health, nutrition, or maternal and child services.
Our Maternal Heath Strategy
- Develop more effective and efficient national health systems
- Motivate young people to delay pregnancy and achieve higher levels of education
- Support increased use of reproductive health services, focusing on assisted deliveries and family planning
- Tie financing to performance in maternal health programs
- Protect poor women from ill health and unaffordable costs and treatment
Some of Our MDG 5 Results
Between 2003 and 2013, more than 117 million people in the poorest countries gained access to essential health services; 195 million pregnant women received antenatal care, and more than 30 million births were attended by skilled health personnel. Countries have also reported impressive results:
- Burundi: 25 percent more women gave birth at health facilities in 2011 than in 2010; prenatal consultations rose by 20 percent during the same period.
- Guinea: 95 percent of pregnant women in 2012 received prenatal care from a health care provider, up from 83 percent in 2011.
- Lao PDR: 93,000 women received subsidies for prenatal care and hospital delivery, and 536,000 women received free or subsidized health exams between 1997 and 2006.
How’s the World Doing?
- 800 women die every day due to complications of pregnancy or childbirth.
- 45% drop in maternal mortality since 1990.
- 1/2 of women in developing regions receive recommended health care during pregnancy.
- 15x higher maternal mortality ratio in developing regions, as compared to that of developed regions.