6 Improve maternal health

Where do we stand?

Maternal mortality has nearly halved since 1990, but levels are far removed from the 2015 target.
The targets for improving maternal health include reducing by three-fourths the maternal mortality ratio and achieve universal access to reproductive health. Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates. Inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health.

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UNDP's work around the globe

  • UNDP in Eritrea

    Reducing maternal death in Eritrea
    UNDP in Eritrea

    In the market town of Senafe, in southern Eritrea, Fethawi Berhane has just undergone three days of painful labor and complications during childbirth that resulted inmore

Quick Facts

  • An estimated 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010 worldwide, a decline of 47 percent from 1990.
  • The regions with the highest maternal mortality, sub Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, are also those with the lowest coverage of births attended by skilled health personnel—less than half.
  • The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed.
  • The number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births is down from 440 in 1990 to 240 in 2010, for the developing regions as a whole.
  • hile Southern Africa reported almost universal coverage in 2010, in West Africa about one-third of women did not receive antenatal care visits.
  • The use of contraception is lowest among the poorest women and those with no education.
  • More than half of all women aged 15 to 49 who were married or in a union were using some form of contraception in 2010 in all regions except sub-Saharan Africa and Oceania.
  • Fewer teens are having children in most regions, but progress has slowed.
  • Maternal health coverage has progressively increased in developing regions from 63 percent in 1990 to 71 percent in 2000, and then to 80 percent in 2010.

1.34 years
remaining
until 2015

1990 2015
Featured Publication
The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012

Three important targets on poverty, slums and water have been met three years ahead of 2015, says this year’s Report. Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible ─ but only if Governments do not waiver from their commitments.


More MDG-related publications
Targets for MDG 5
  1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
    • Most maternal deaths could be avoided
    • Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care
    • The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed
  2. Achieve universal access to reproductive health & inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health
    • More women are receiving antenatal care
    • Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking
    • Only one in three rural women in developing regions receive the recommended care during pregnancy
    • Progress has stalled in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies, putting more young mothers at risk
    • Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates
    • Progress in expanding the use of contraceptives by women has slowed & use of contraception is lowest among the poorest women and those with no education