For over two decades various organizations around the world have been strategizing and implementing policies that they hoped would reduce the maternal morality rates. Now it seems some progress is being made.


Over the years the statistics have been depressing. Not only was the maternal mortality rate remained abysmally high it was also not dropping at the rate anyone expected. It appeared that despite the best efforts public policy advocates, doctors and scientist had to offer the problem was intractable and connected to forces beyond reasonable interventions. However, a new study published in April 2010 offers some hope.


According to the new study published by The Lancet 1 23 countries are on track now to actually reduce their maternal mortality rates by 75% over the last decade. Some of these include countries from the poorest regions of the world such as Egypt, Bangladesh and other developing countries like China and Indian and more developed countries like Bulgaria and Ecuador.


The authors contribute the credit in the declines, in part, to a increase in births attended by a skilled birth attended.


Unfortunately this progress has also been off-set partially because of increases in other regions of the world, and has also been exacerbated by the HIV epidemic. Increases in areas like Afghanistan and some sub-Saharan African nations are particularly troubling. In some of the most developed nations such as Canada and Norway there have also been recorded increase over the last few years, but this appears to be related to better recording, and is not necessarily indicative of a negative trend in these countries. In countries like the United States we would expect to also see a similar “increase” even from our current rates because tracking is not standardized across the country yet.


This new report offer both good news and a warning. The good news is that we now know that the strategies put into place over the last 1-2 decades do indeed work. The warning is that for countries that do nothing, or relax their emphasis on maternal health it is very possible to slide backwards. Maternity is something that must be supported in order for it to thrive and for the mothers and families to be protected.

Please sign the petition calling on Congress to create a memorial to remind us of their sacrifice and our need to support the mothers in our country.


  1. Hogan et al “Maternal mortality for 181 countries, 1980—2008: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 5” – the map is also from their published paper in Lancet