Ten countries account for 60% of maternal and newborn deaths, India on top of the listtext_fields
Cape Town: Ten nations that account for 51% of live births across the world are also responsible for 60% of maternal deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths. And India is on top of the list.
According to a recent report by the UN, India in 2020 recorded 7,88,000 maternal deaths, stillbirths, and neonatal deaths. The country also accounts for 17% of global live births. It is followed by Nigeria, Pakistan, Congo, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, and China. Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia are the regions experiencing the largest number of deaths.
This in comparison to the global deaths of 4.5 million puts the country at the top of the list. In 2020-2021, the world recorded 0.29 million maternal deaths, 1.9 million stillbirths, and 2.3 million newborn deaths.
The report was prepared by the WHO, UNICEF, and UNFPA and launched on Tuesday at the four-day International Maternal Newborn Health Conference (IMNHC 2023) in Cape Town, South Africa. The conference is being hosted by the Government of South Africa, AlignMNH - a global initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
The progress tracking report said that the countries are progressing in their efforts to achieve the 2030 targets. However, global progress has flatlined for eight years due to decreasing investments in maternal and newborn health. Dr Anshu Banerjee, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child, and Adolescent Health and Ageing at WHO, said the Covid-19 pandemic created further setbacks.
"Pregnant women and newborns continue to die at unacceptably high rates worldwide. If we wish to see different results, we must do things differently. More and smarter investments in primary health care are needed so that every woman and baby - no matter where they live - have the best chance of health and survival," said the expert.
Dr Allisyn Moran, Maternal Health Lead at WHO, said that the mortality of new mothers and babies has declined since 2000. But since 2015, progress has hit a plateau. "We really need to work hard as a community to accelerate that progress. We need to implement life-saving interventions for quality antenatal, intrapartum, and postnatal care for women and newborns, and prevent stillbirths. We have coverage targets for antenatal, skilled birth assistant, and postnatal care by 2025. We know that the interventions need to be given along with quality and respectful care."
Dr Willibald Zeck, Chief of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights at UNFPA, said more data is needed to design a plan to provide quality care to the worst-affected countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia. "To increase survival rates, women and babies must have quality and affordable healthcare before, during, and after childbirth. More skilled and motivated health workers, especially midwives, are needed alongside essential medicines and supplies, safe water, and reliable electricity."
Experts said that it is critical to determine why the pace slowed and take action to address them. According to the report, the pandemic, climate change, conflicts, and increasing cost of living have potentially played a role.