Although spectacular progress has been made over the last few years in terms of maternal and fetal deaths, 52 countries are set to miss the millennium development goal (MDG) set in terms of maternal deaths and the under five mortality rates.
The deadline is set for 2015 with countries supposed to reduce the mortality rates for mothers during childbirth and young children in general, but although the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that a lot of progress has been made in some of the poorest countries in the world, many countries are still not doing enough.
There are 75 Countdown countries that are included in the MDG, due to the fact that they have the highest rates of maternal and child mortality, and 25 of these had not made any progress in reducing maternal deaths, while 13 have not been able to reduce their high ratio of child deaths. According to a new updated report from WHO, 66 out of the 75 countries are not going to be able to meet a MDG goal by reducing their maternal mortality rate by three-quarters before 2015 rolls around.
The countries with the highest rates of maternal death include Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Chad. Another 52 countries will likely miss the MDG 4 goal of reducing their children deaths by 66% before 2015. Both goals were originally set in 1990 with a deadline of 2015 for improvement.
Co-chair of the Countdown initiative, Zulfiqar Bhutta, stated that it is a race against time and even though the pace has picked up quite a bit over the last few years, countries are really going to need to institute change quickly if they want to meet their goals in the next three years.
The WHO’s World Health Statistics 2012 survey conducted last month found that even though there have been many improvements in some of the poorest regions of the world, there are still large variations between countries and even within some of the countries themselves based on area.
The WHO report also emphasised that there has been a lot of global success in overall reducing the under five mortality rate as it fell by 35% in the past two decades. In 1990 approximately 90 deaths occurred per every thousand births whereas the number in 2012 was placed at 57. According to WHO, the measles immunisation coverage may be one reason for the large drop.
Maternal deaths also decreased on a global scale, dropping from the reported 543,000 in 1990 to just 287,000 in 2010. The drop in numbers is attributed to antenatal care improvements, availability in contraception, and more access to skilled care amongst the poor and rural populations in many of the poorer countries where maternal death rates were previously high.