Nigeria accounts for one in seven global maternal deaths, implying that over 50,000 Nigerian women die yearly, a United Nations report said, ranking the country second among 10 others responsible for 60 percent of women and newborn deaths, worldwide.

The latest estimate was contained in the progress tracking report by the WHO, UNICEF, and the UNFPA was launched on Tuesday at the ongoing “International Maternal Newborn Health Conference’ (IMNHC2023).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) released the report on Tuesday, titled, “Improving Maternal and Newborn Health and Survival and Reducing Stillbirth: Progress Report 2023,” which revealed, Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, is currently ranked second after India

According to the report, 788 women and children died “per thousand” in India, while 540 perished “per thousand” in Nigeria in 2020.

In the same year, India accounted for 17 percent of all maternal, neonatal, and stillbirth fatalities worldwide, whereas Nigeria accounted for just twelve percent.

Eight other countries with high maternal, neonatal, and stillbirths are Pakistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Afghanistan, and the United Republic of Tanzania.

The report estimates that globally, there were a combined 4.5 million maternal, and neonatal deaths and stillbirths in 2020.

“The top 10 countries with the highest-burden account for 60 percent of global maternal deaths, stillbirths, and newborn deaths, and 51 percent of the world’s live births,” the report noted.

It is not news that every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, globally.

The new report noted that Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia are the regions experiencing the largest number of deaths, despite the variation in the pace at which countries are progressing in their efforts to attain the SDGs 2030 targets.

The four-day conference, which is being hosted by the Government of South Africa and AlignMNH – a global initiative funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in collaboration with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was declared open on May 8.

According to the first-ever joint Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) and Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM)progress tracking report, the global progress in reducing deaths of pregnant women, mothers, and babies has flatlined for eight years due to decreasing investments in maternal and newborn health.

Dr. Anshu Banerjee, Director, Maternal, Newborn, Child and Adolescent Health and Ageing, WHO, said, “Pregnant women and newborns continue to die at unacceptably high rates worldwide, and the coronavirus pandemic has created further setbacks to providing them with needed healthcare.”

“If we wish to see different results, we must do things differently. More and smarter investments in primary healthcare are needed so that every woman and baby – no matter where they live – have the best chance of health and survival,” Banerjee said.

Addressing media at IMNHC, Dr. Alisyn Moran, Maternal Health Lead at WHO, said maternal, and newborn mortality and stillbirths have declined since 2000, but since 2015, there has been significant plateauing of maternal mortality reduction and stillbirth reduction.

“We really need to work hard as a community to accelerate that progress so that we can achieve the SDG targets by 2030. In order to get there, we need to implement lifesaving 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 to 2025. We know that the interventions need to be given along with quality and respectful care,” Moran said.