Approximately 800 women die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth every day, with 99% of these deaths occurring in developing countries. Reducing global maternal mortality by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 is the first target of Goal 5 of the eight Millenium Development Goals adopted by the international community in 2000 – Improving Maternal Health.
Although the death rate for women giving birth plummeted in the 20th century, with maternal mortality worldwide dropping by almost 50% between 1990 and 2010, it is unclear whether observed improvements are due to the interventions being conducted or due to factors such as improved economic conditions and supportive care, as discussed in a commentary published in BMC Public Health, by Section Editor of the journal Omar Khan and co-authors Nancy Sloan and Richard Derman.
Omar Khan and colleagues review the global improvements in maternal mortality over the last 25 years, discussing which interventions have been most beneficial and where future resources need to be invested. They conclude that research is essential in order to determine the true effectiveness of interventions in preventing maternal death in settings with substandard care where it is most prevalent.
The issue of raising awareness on maternal mortality was also the main theme of this year’s World Population Day spearheaded by the United Nations. Marked on the 11th of July, the focus was on adolescent pregnancy and preventing teenage maternal mortality. To find out more about adolescent pregnancy, stay tuned for UNFPA’s State of World Population report 2013 (release date 23 October 2013).