WHO Shows a Rise in Maternal Mortality across Europe and North America After 2016

A newly published World Health Organization report demonstrated the continued persistence of preventable maternal deaths over the last two decades revealing the fact that one woman dies every two minutes because of pregnancy and childbirth. The WHO report estimated about 287,000 maternal deaths in 2020. Furthermore, it found 551 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in nine countries facing humanitarian crises, more than double the global average. If current trends continue, the WHO has estimated more than 1 million additional maternal deaths by 2030.


WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated, "Despite pregnancy being a period of abundant hope and a blissful experience for all women, it is still a shockingly treacherous experience for millions around the globe who lack access to high quality, compliant health care."


The report depicted that from 2016 to 2020, maternal mortality rates stagnated in most nations. However, in the United Nations-designated regions, including Europe and Northern America, maternal mortality rates rose by 17% from 2016 to 2020 whereas in Latin America and the Caribbean, they grew by 15%.


Meanwhile, maternal mortality rates also showed a decline of 35% in Australia and New Zealand and 16% in central and southern Asia from the year 2016 to 2020. About 33% of the global nations also showed a decline in their maternal mortality rates. Dr. Willibald Zeck, the head of sexual and reproductive health and rights at the United Nations Population Fund, said, "This decline may be due to the availability of universal health care systems, empowered health care workforces that usually involve midwives, resources to guarantee comprehensive medical care and lower cesarean section rates, which can be harmful when not medically necessary."


Most maternal deaths are preventable as they occur because of severe bleeding, high blood pressure, and complications from unsafe or inaccessible abortions, and underlying disorders like HIV/AIDS and malaria. According to the experts, this distress situation can be prevented by strengthening healthcare systems by hiring more workers, guaranteeing access to sexual and reproductive health services, and funding women’s health and education broadly.


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