World Health Organisation (WHO) says one pregnant woman or newborn dies every seven seconds as global progress in reducing death of pregnant women, mothers and babies, has flatened for eight years.
WHO, in a new report published on Tuesday, attributed the increase in maternal and newborn deaths to decreasing investments in the sector.
The report, Improving maternal and newborn health and survival and reducing stillbirth, assesses the latest data, which have similar risk factors and causes, and tracks the provision of critical health services.
The report shows that over 4.5 million women and babies die every year during pregnancy, childbirth or the first weeks after birth, equivalent to one death happening every seven seconds, mostly from preventable or treatable causes if proper care was available. The new publication was launched at a major global conference in Cape Town, South Africa.
According to the latest WHO survey on the pandemic’s impacts on essential health services, around 25 per cent of countries still report ongoing disruptions to vital pregnancy and postnatal care and services for sick children.
“Pregnant women and newborns continue to die at unacceptably high rates worldwide, and the COVID-19 pandemic has created further setbacks to providing them with the healthcare they need,” Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director of Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing at WHO said.
“If we wish to see different results, we must do things differently. More and smarter investments in primary healthcare are needed now so that every woman and baby — no matter where they live — has the best chance of health and survival.”
To increase survival rates, women and babies must have quality, affordable healthcare before, during and after childbirth, the agencies say, as well as access to family planning services.
Improving maternal and newborn health further requires addressing harmful gender norms, biases, and inequalities. Recent data show that only about 60 per cent of women aged 15-49 years make their own decisions regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights.
Based on current trends, more than 60 countries are not set to meet the maternal, newborn, and stillborn mortality reduction targets in the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.