UN agencies report: 4.5 million mothers and babies die each year

Millions of infants and mothers die in childbirth every year. The numbers have stagnated since 2015, the United Nations has now criticized in a report.

The reason for this is insufficient investment in the health sector.

Around the world, around 4.5 million mothers and babies die every year during pregnancy, childbirth or in the first few weeks of the child’s life. Although most of these deaths are preventable, the number has remained at the same high level around the world for eight years as there is less and less money for maternal and newborn health, according to a joint report by several UN bodies, including the World Health Organization and WHO by the UN children’s fund Unicef.

According to the report, since 2015 the numbers have stagnated at about 2.3 million newborn deaths, 1.9 million stillbirths and about 290,000 mothers who died each year. Anshu Banerjee, WHO director for maternal health, called these death rates “unacceptable”. “If we want different results, we have to act differently,” he said.

More staff and access to medicines

Banerjee demanded higher and smarter investments to give every woman and child the best opportunity, no matter where in the world they lived. Specifically, the organizations in the report called for affordable health care and more medical workers as the most important steps for more mothers and their children to survive. In addition, access to medicines, clean water and electricity must be guaranteed.

According to the report, the corona pandemic, rising poverty and humanitarian crises have increased the pressure on health systems in recent years. Out of 100 countries surveyed, only a tenth have enough money to implement their maternal and newborn health plans, the report said.

Injustices against women are also a factor

The supply in conflict countries and in parts of Africa and Asia is particularly bad. Maternal and neonatal mortality is highest in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. Three quarters of these hard-hit countries have reduced their spending on maternal health since 2018.

The UN organizations also emphasized that the health of mothers and their babies can only be improved if prejudice and injustice against women are combated. Globally, only about 60 percent of all adolescent girls and women can make free decisions about their sexuality and health, it said.

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