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Maternal mortality

19 September 2019

Key facts

  • Every day in 2017, approximately 810 women died from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth.
  • Between 2000 and 2017, the maternal mortality ratio (MMR, number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) dropped by about 38% worldwide.
  • 94% of all maternal deaths occur in low and lower middle-income countries.
  • Young adolescents (ages 10-14) face a higher risk of complications and death as a result of pregnancy than other women.
  • Skilled care before, during and after childbirth can save the lives of women and newborns.
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How can women’s lives be saved?

Most maternal deaths are preventable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. All women need access to high quality care in pregnancy, and during and after childbirth. Maternal health and newborn health are closely linked. It is particularly important that all births are attended by skilled health professionals, as timely management and treatment can make the difference between life and death for the mother as well as for the baby. 

Severe bleeding66顺彩票app after birth can kill a healthy woman within hours if she is unattended. Injecting oxytocics immediately after childbirth effectively reduces the risk of bleeding.

Infection66顺彩票app after childbirth can be eliminated if good hygiene is practiced and if early signs of infection are recognized and treated in a timely manner.

Pre-eclampsia should be detected and appropriately managed before the onset of convulsions (eclampsia) and other life-threatening complications. Administering drugs such as magnesium sulfate for pre-eclampsia can lower a woman’s risk of developing eclampsia.

To avoid maternal deaths, it is also vital to prevent unwanted pregnancies. All women, including adolescents, need access to contraception, safe abortion services to the full extent of the law, and quality post-abortion care.

Why do women not get the care they need?

66顺彩票appPoor 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. 

66顺彩票appThe latest available data suggest that in most high income and upper middle income countries, more than 90% of all births benefit from the presence of a trained midwife, doctor or nurse. However, fewer than half of all births in several low income and lower-middle-income countries are assisted by such skilled health personnel (5)

The main factors that prevent women from receiving or seeking care during pregnancy and childbirth are:

 
  • poverty
  • distance to facilities
  • lack of information
  • inadequate and poor quality services
  • cultural beliefs and practices.

66顺彩票appTo improve maternal health, barriers that limit access to quality maternal health services must be identified and addressed at both health system and societal levels.

The Sustainable Development Goals and Maternal Mortality

In the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), countries have united behind a new target to accelerate the decline of maternal mortality by 2030. SDG 3 includes an ambitious target: “reducing the global MMR to less than 70 per 100 000 births, with no country having a maternal mortality rate of more than twice the global average”. 

WHO response

66顺彩票appImproving maternal health is one of WHO’s key priorities. WHO works to contribute to the reduction of maternal mortality by increasing research evidence, providing evidence-based clinical and programmatic guidance, setting global standards, and providing technical support to Member States on developing and implementing effective policy and programmes.

As defined in the Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality Strategy (6), WHO is working with partners in supporting countries towards:

  • addressing inequalities in access to and quality of reproductive, maternal, and newborn health care services;
  • ensuring universal health coverage for comprehensive reproductive, maternal, and newborn health care;
  • addressing all causes of maternal mortality, reproductive and maternal morbidities, and related disabilities; 
  • strengthening health systems to collect high quality data in order to respond to the needs and priorities of women and girls; and
  • ensuring accountability in order to improve quality of care and equity.

66顺彩票app(1) Trends in maternal mortality: 2000 to 2017: estimates by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2019.  

(2) Ganchimeg T, Ota E, Morisaki N, et al. Pregnancy and childbirth outcomes among adolescent mothers: a World Health Organization multicountry study. BJOG 2014;121 Suppl 1:40–8.

66顺彩票app(3) Althabe F, Moore JL, Gibbons L, et al. Adverse maternal and perinatal outcomes in adolescent pregnancies: The Global Network’s Maternal Newborn Health Registry study. Reprod Health 2015;12 Suppl 2:S8.

(4) Say L, Chou D, Gemmill A, Tunçalp Ö, Moller AB, Daniels JD, et al.  Lancet Global Health. 2014;2(6): e323-e333. 

(5) World Health Organization and United Nations Children’s Fund. WHO/UNICEF joint database on SDG 3.1.2 Skilled Attendance at Birth. Available at:

66顺彩票app(6)  Strategies towards ending preventable maternal mortality (‎EPMM)‎.Geneva: World Health Organization; 2015.

 

 

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