Since 1990, annual maternal deaths have declined by almost one half and the deaths of young children have declined from 12 million to 7.6 million in 2010. Some of the world's poorest countries have achieved spectacular progress in reducing child deaths. Similar progress has been seen in reducing maternal deaths, although in fewer developing countries.
But all the news is not good. Every two minutes, somewhere in the world, a woman dies from complications of pregnancy and her newborn baby’s chances of survival are very poor. For every woman who dies, an additional 20-30 suffer significant and sometimes lifelong problems, as a result of their pregnancy. In these same two minutes nearly 30 young children die of disease and illness that could have been prevented or effectively treated.
These are some of the results shown in a new 220-page report, Building a Future for Women and Children, which is published by the Countdown to 2015 initiative (www.countdown2015mnch.org). The report is authored by a global collaboration of academics and professionals from Johns Hopkins University, the Aga Khan University, the University of Pelotas in Brazil, Harvard University, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, UNFPA, Family Care International, and Save the Children. The secretariat of the Countdown to 2015 initiative is based at The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health.
The report assesses the progress that the 75 highest-burden countries are making towards achieving UN Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 (MDGs). These MDGs call for reducing maternal deaths by three-quarters and the deaths of children under 5 by two-thirds, both by 2015 compared to 1990 levels.
The release of the Countdown 2012 Report coincides with a two-day forum to chart a course toward the end of preventable child deaths, taking place June 14-15 in Washington, DC. WHO Director General, Dr. Margaret Chan, addressed the conference. The governments of the United States, India, and Ethiopia, in collaboration with UNICEF, will convene this Child Survival Call to Action. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also attended.