A woman dies every two minutes from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth, according to a new multi-agency report from the United Nations and World Health Organization, among others.
“While pregnancy should be a time of great hope and a positive experience for all women, it is an incredibly dangerous experience for millions around the world who lack access to high quality, respectful health care,” Director General of the World Health Organization Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a press release about the report, which was released on Thursday.
Heavy bleeding, high blood pressure, pregnancy-related infections, complications from unsafe abortions, and underlying medical conditions that can worsen pregnancy (such as HIV/AIDS and malaria) are leading cause of maternal mortality, according to the report. All such conditions are “more preventable and treatable with access to high-quality and respectful health care,” the authors say.
Maternal mortality increased in Europe and North America from 2016 to 2020, by 17% and 15%, respectively, according to the report. The rates stopped in four regions, and decreased in two others—Australia and New Zealand, and Central and Southern Asia—by 35% and 16%, respectively, during the same period.
The pandemic may have affected those numbers, the authors wrote, noting that COVID increases the risks of pregnancy complications. They encourage vaccination of pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant.
Globally, there will be an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths in 2020, down from an estimated 309,000 in 2016. While gains have been made in reducing maternal deaths from 2000 to 2015, progress has largely stalled. , or even reversed, afterwards, according to the report. .
Maternal deaths tend to be concentrated in the poorest countries, and in areas experiencing conflict. In 2020, almost 70% of global maternal deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa. And in countries facing severe humanitarian crises, the maternal mortality rate is more than double the world average, the authors wrote.
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