Ten countries have met the Millennium Development Goal on maternal mortality as of 2010, according to a report released Wednesday (May 16). But many countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, risk failing to meet the target by 2015.

Estonia, Maldives, Belarus, Romania, Bhutan, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Lithuania, Nepal and Vietnam had achieved the fifth MDG in 2010, according to the “Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010.”

The report, published by UNICEFU.N. Population FundWorld Health Organization and the World Bank, says the annual number of maternal deaths due to pregnancy-related complications worldwide dropped in the 20 years since 1990: From more than 543,000 to 287,000. However, the problem remains a global challenge, especially in developing countries.

Developing countries account for 99 percent of maternal deaths, with the global burden heavy in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. India and Nigeria account for a third of maternal deaths, the report says. Thirty-six of the 40 countries that have the highest number of maternal deaths, meanwhile, are in sub-Saharan Africa.

Severe bleeding after childbirth, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy and unsafe abortions constitute 80 percent of all maternal deaths, according to the WHO. The health organization says about 800 women die from preventable causes linked to pregnancy and childbirth every day.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.