Since 1990, pregnancy-related complications in Iran have been reduced by 81%. Iran is one of only ten countries to successfully fulfill their Millennium Development Goal prior to the deadline.

Complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth only affect one out of every 2,400 women. That rate has been reduced by nearly 10% per year for the last 25 years. For comparative purposes, this is already better than in the United States and, while on the high side, Iran is on track to be on par with most other developed countries around the world. What accounts for this remarkable achievement?

Iran’s fertility rate (currently 1.85 children per woman) has declined rapidly over the last three decades, which has allowed women to recover appropriately between pregnancies, and increases the relative level of investment per child. Increased use of contraceptives (73%) is associated with a cultural shift empowering women with more control over their bodies. Significant investments in health care facilities and basic maternal care has reduced complications, such as postpartum hemorrhage and infection, to negligible levels. The rate of pregnancy-related complications now mirrors that of other developed economies, with pulmonary embolism and stroke as the primary complications.

One potential factor that complicates this otherwise wonderful success story is that Iran lacks a complete civil registration data system. However, numerous other sources of birth registration are available and the WHO remains quite confident in the numbers.

Do you want to make a difference?

Iran has made significant progress, but many other countries are still struggling. The Women’s World Health Initiative works directly with community-level professionals to reduce pregnancy-related complications for women in the Saraya region of Senegal. Every $700 raised helps WWHI add one more community health worker to their staff, meaning that 152 additional mothers and 1,000 children will receive greater professional-level care.

  1. WHO
  2. Moasseni 2013
  3. World Factbook