6 Improve maternal health

Where do we stand?

Maternal survival has significantly improved since the adoption of the MDGs.

Southern Asia and Eastern Asia have made the greatest progress in reducing maternal mortality. Despite this progress, every day hundreds of women die during pregnancy or from childbirth-related complications.

Maternal mortality ratio, 1990 and 2013 (maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, women aged 15-49)
Source: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015

Bar Chart
  • Since 1990, the maternal mortality ratio has been cut nearly in half, and most of the reduction has occurred since 2000.
  • More than 71 percent of births were assisted by skilled health personnel globally in 2014, an increase from 59 percent in 1990.
  • In the developing regions, only 56 percent of births in rural areas are attended by skilled health personnel, compared with 87 percent in urban areas.
  • Only half of pregnant women in developing regions receive the recommended minimum of four antenatal care visits.
  • Just 51 percent of countries have data on maternal cause of death.

Read more in The Millennium Development Goals Report 2015.

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2015: Time for Global Action

Ensuring that leaders take ambitious decisions to reduce poverty and inequality and protect our planet this year is everyone’s responsibility.

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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