Every two minutes, a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth, said a joint report prepared by multiple UN agencies.
The report, Trends in maternal mortality, reveals alarming setbacks for women’s health in recent years, as maternal deaths either increased or stagnated in nearly all regions of the world.
The sorry state
The report, which tracks maternal deaths nationally, regionally and globally from 2000 to 2020, shows there were an estimated 2,87,000 maternal deaths worldwide in 2020.
This marks only a slight decrease from 3,09,000 in 2016 when the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) came into effect.
Roughly a third of women do not have even four of a recommended eight antenatal checks or receive essential postnatal care.
Some 270 million women lack access to modern family planning methods.
Poorest parts of the world
The poorest regions and conflict zones reported maximum maternal deaths — about 70% in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nigeria had the highest estimated number (82,000) of maternal deaths — 28.5% of all estimated global maternal deaths in 2020.
Nine countries facing severe humanitarian crises reported more than double the global maternal mortality rate — 551 maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births, compared to 223 globally.
What about India?
India was among three countries with more than 10,000 such deaths. India reported 24,000 pregnancy or childbirth deaths, followed by The Democratic Republic of the Congo (22,000) and Ethiopia (10,000).
Where it worsened
In two of the eight UN regions — Europe and Northern America, and Latin America and the Caribbean — the maternal mortality rate increased from 2016 to 2020, by 17% and 15% respectively.
Two regions — Australia and New Zealand, and Central and Southern Asia — experienced significant declines (by 35% and 16%) in their maternal mortality rates.