130 million births in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa will be unattended by a skilled birth attendant between 2011-2015.

Reduction
in maternal morbidity is the fifth of the UN Millennium Development Goals. To achieve this, the
aim is to have 90% of births in low and middle income countries attended by a
skilled birth attendant (SBA). Whilst difficult to definitively prove, it is
estimated that the attendance of a SBA could prevent between 16-33% of maternal
deaths.

This study,
published in BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth, estimates the
numbers of non-SBA births that will occur between
2011-2015. The information is intended to inform policy makers and to assist
them in the instigation of measures, which look to decrease the risks posed to
mothers giving birth in the absence of a SBA.

The
calculations are based on current SBA attendance and a prediction of the increase
in rural and urban populations. Several varyingly optimistic scenarios were
considered, based on the success of the Development Goal. Unfortunately, the conservative
estimation of the number of non-SBA births in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa
between 2011-2015 was between 130 and 180 million.

Whilst
significant efforts are being undertaken to provide SBA attendance at more
births, it is apparent that this target will not be met. Additional measures
must be taken to ensure the safety of mothers in births that are unattended.

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