Greater efforts needed on maternal and newborn mortality

Progress in improving mother and baby survival has “stagnated” worldwide in the last decade, according to a new report.

The report from the United Nations ‘Improving maternal and newborn health and survival and reducing stillbirth – Progress report 2023’ was released yesterday.

It outlines the critical challenges and global targets around improving maternal and newborn health and survival, findings from recently published analyses, and each country’s efforts to meet these targets.

Progress has stagnated since 2015, it finds, with about 290,000 maternal deaths each year, 1.9 million stillbirths, and 2.3 million deaths in the first month of life. The worst-affected countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia.

Many innovative and effective strategies have been undertaken, with great success, the report states. But “far too many” women and newborns continue to die from preventable causes.

“Accelerating progress towards these targets demands a concerted effort by all stakeholders, including governments, health organisations and communities,” the authors write.

“While each country will have different challenges and priorities, commitment and investments to ensure quality primary health care for all pregnant women, mothers and newborns, sufficient numbers of skilled providers, and access to care in the crucial 24 hours around birth are non-negotiable requirements for all settings.”

Dr Anshu Banerjee of the World Health Organization added: “Pregnant women and newborns continue to die at unacceptably high rates worldwide, and the COVID-19 pandemic has created further setbacks to providing them with the health care they need.

“If we wish to see different results, we must do things differently. More and smarter investments in primary health care are needed now so that every woman and baby – no matter where they live – has the best chance of health and survival.”


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