The report ‘Trends in Maternal Mortality’ by the World Bank and United Nations Population Division, UNICEF, UNFPA reveals an alarming blow to women’s health in recent years as maternal mortality has either increased or remained flat in almost all regions of the world.
UNFPA Executive Director Dr Natalia Kanim said it is unacceptable that so many women die unnecessarily in pregnancy and childbirth, 280,000 deaths in a single year are unjustifiable. The report states that the world must significantly accelerate progress to meet global targets to reduce maternal mortality or risk losing 100,000 lives by 2030.
In 2 out of 8 regions of the United Nations, Europe and North America and Latin America and the Caribbean, the maternal mortality rate has increased from 15 percent in 2016 to 17 percent in 2020, and in some places this rate is stagnant.
The report estimates that positive progress is possible, with Australia and New Zealand and two regions in Central and South Asia significantly increasing their maternal mortality rates over the same period. Overall, 287,000 maternal deaths occurred worldwide in 2020, a slight decrease from the 39,000 deaths in 2016. Nearly one-third of women do not get prenatal check-ups or receive post-natal care, and 270 million women do not have access to modern family planning methods.
The world’s poor and conflict-ridden countries have the highest maternal mortality rates, with 70 percent of maternal deaths worldwide in 2020 occurring in sub-Saharan Africa. 9 countries with severe humanitarian crisis have double the world average maternal mortality rate.