800 women die daily worldwide due to pregnancy and birth complications

  • July 09, 2014 | Kim Lamont

Maternal mortality remains unacceptably high worldwide. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) approximately 800 women die daily from pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications around the world (WHO: Countdown to 2015 Report, Geneva, Switzerland).

Lower to middle income countries (LMIC) account for 99% of all maternal deaths, with nearly three-fifths of the maternal deaths occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa alone (UN: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012, UN).

This highlights the discrepancies between rich and poor societies; it also reflects on the inequity in access to health care. In 2010, 287 000 women died during and following pregnancy and childbirth.

The maternal mortality ratio in developing countries is 240 per 100 000 births versus 16 per 100 000 in developed countries (UN: The Millennium Development Goals Report 2012).

This is not well aligned with the 5th Millennium Development Goal (MDG) which aims to improve maternal health and reduce maternal mortality by three-quarters between 1990 and 2015.

Unfortunately, poor women in remote areas are the least likely to receive adequate health care. This is especially true for regions with low numbers of skilled health workers, such as Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

While levels of antenatal care have increased in many parts of the world during the past decade, only 46% of women in low-income countries benefit from skilled care during childbirth (Gulmezoglu et al., 2004).