Maternal Death Rates by Country: Examining Global Disparities and Progress

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Maternal mortality remains a pressing global health issue, with thousands of women losing their lives due to pregnancy-related complications each year. While progress has been made in reducing maternal death rates worldwide, significant disparities persist among countries. This article delves into the maternal death rates by country, shedding light on the factors influencing these disparities and highlighting efforts being made to improve maternal health outcomes.

  1. The Global Maternal Mortality Landscape: 1.1 Defining maternal mortality: Maternal mortality refers to the death of a woman during pregnancy, childbirth, or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, regardless of the duration and site of pregnancy. 1.2 Global maternal mortality trends: Despite a decline in maternal deaths since 1990, the global average maternal mortality rate remains unacceptably high, with an estimated 295,000 maternal deaths occurring in 2017. 1.3 Highest burden countries: Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia account for the majority of maternal deaths, with countries like Nigeria, India, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo experiencing alarmingly high maternal mortality rates.
  2. Factors Influencing Maternal Death Rates: 2.1 Access to quality healthcare: Limited access to healthcare services, particularly in remote and impoverished areas, significantly contributes to high maternal death rates. Adequate antenatal care, skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, and postpartum support are crucial for preventing maternal deaths. 2.2 Socioeconomic and educational factors: Poverty, low education levels, and gender inequality play a significant role in maternal mortality rates. Women with limited resources and education often face barriers in accessing essential maternal healthcare services, exacerbating the risk of complications. 2.3 Cultural and societal factors: Deep-rooted cultural practices, social norms, and traditional beliefs can hinder women’s access to appropriate maternal healthcare. Practices such as child marriage, female genital mutilation, and limited decision-making power for women may contribute to adverse maternal health outcomes.
  3. Progress and Initiatives: 3.1 Global initiatives: The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have set a target to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030. Efforts like the “Every Woman Every Child” movement and the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents aim to improve maternal health outcomes through increased investments and strategic partnerships. 3.2 Strengthening healthcare systems: Many countries are focusing on strengthening their healthcare systems to provide essential maternal healthcare services. This includes improving infrastructure, training healthcare providers, and ensuring the availability of essential medicines and equipment. 3.3 Empowering women and girls: Addressing gender inequality and empowering women and girls is crucial for reducing maternal death rates. Efforts are being made to promote education, improve women’s economic status, and enhance their decision-making power regarding reproductive health.
  4. Success Stories and Best Practices: 4.1 Achievements in developed countries: Many high-income countries have successfully reduced maternal mortality rates through comprehensive healthcare systems, access to family planning services, and quality prenatal and obstetric care. Countries like Sweden, Norway, and Finland have some of the lowest maternal death rates globally. 4.2 Successes in developing countries: Several low- and middle-income countries have made significant progress in reducing maternal deaths. For example, Ethiopia implemented the Health Extension Program, resulting in a remarkable decline in maternal mortality rates.
  5. The Way Forward: 5.1 Increased investment: Governments, international organizations, and donors must prioritize and invest in maternal healthcare to ensure universal access to quality services. 5.2 Strengthening health systems: Building robust healthcare systems with a focus on primary healthcare, skilled birth attendants, emergency obstetric care, and access to essential medicines is crucial. 5.3 Addressing social determinants: Tackling poverty, gender inequality, and harmful cultural practices is essential for improving maternal health outcomes. 5.4 Collaboration and knowledge sharing: Governments, organizations, and stakeholders should collaborate and share best practices, experiences, and knowledge to accelerate progress in reducing maternal death rates.


Reducing maternal mortality rates is a global imperative that requires concerted efforts from governments, healthcare providers, organizations, and communities. By addressing the underlying factors contributing to disparities in maternal death rates and implementing evidence-based interventions, we can make substantial progress in improving maternal health outcomes worldwide. Ensuring every woman has access to comprehensive, quality healthcare throughout their pregnancy and childbirth journey is not only a matter of human rights but also a critical step towards achieving sustainable development.

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