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“The Miracle of Childbirth Marred by the Tragedy of Maternal Deaths,”-UN

By March 3, 2023No Comments
High Maternal Mortality rates during child birth remains a major challenge in Sub-Saharan African (c) HIMSS

A new UN report says a woman dies every two minutes due to pregnancy or childbirth. The report released on February 23 shows that maternal mortalities rose in several UN-designated regions, but the worst-case scenario remained in Sub-Saharan Africa, wherein 70% of all maternal deaths in 2020 happened.

In essence, of the estimated 287,000 maternal deaths recorded in 2020, 70 percent (202,000) took place in sub-Saharan Africa, according to the report.

The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) — deaths per 100,000 live births — in the region was at a dangerous high of 545, many times greater than the world average of 223.

Western Africa recorded the worst regional statistics with a ratio of 754, Middle Africa with 539, and eastern Africa at 351.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has continued to mobilize the global community to mitigate the pain caused by rising maternal mortality at birth (c) YouTube WHO

On the country level, a similar trend was seen with South Sudan (1,223), Chad (1,063), and Nigeria (1,047) recording an extremely high — greater than 1,000 — MMR.

With approximately 82,000 maternal deaths in 2020, Nigeria accounted for over a quarter (28.5 percent) of all estimated global maternal deaths in the pandemic year.

Moreover, of the 10 countries estimated to have very high MMR in 2020 (500–999), all except one — Afghanistan — were also in sub-Saharan Africa. Only Mauritius (84), Cabo Verde (42), and Seychelles (3) in the region fell in the low MMR category (below 100).

The report also assessed the trends over two decades from 2000 to 2020 — and noted that MMR stagnated in sub-Saharan Africa, northern Africa, Oceania (excluding Australia and New Zealand) and western Asia, and eastern and south-eastern Asia.

“While pregnancy should be a time of immense hope and a positive experience for all women, it is tragically still a shockingly dangerous experience for millions around the world who lack access to high quality, respectful health care,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

But the report offers cause for hope. It notes that maternal mortality rates decreased by 35% in Australia and New Zealand and by 16% in central and southern Asia from 2016 to 2020-a sign that the deteriorating trend can be reversed.

The report projects that over a million maternal deaths will occur by 2030 if current trends continue.

It, therefore, called for a strengthening of the health systems through the hiring of more workers, ensuring access to sexual and reproductive health services, and investing broadly in women’s health and education.

Women should also be encouraged to go for all eight recommended pre-natal check-ups or post-natal care, while increased access to contraception remains critical. UN data shows that 270 million women lack access to contraception.

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