Pregnancy-related deaths need to be reduced

The number of deaths associated with childbirth has reduced by 50 per cent over the past 20 years, but more still needs to be done.

A joint report from the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) titled Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010, reveals that annual maternal deaths fell from 543,000 to 287,000 during the course of the work.

Dr Babatunde Osotimehin, Executive Director of UNFPA, said he was very pleased that the number of women dying due to pregnancy continues to fall.

"But we can't stop here. Our work must continue to make every pregnancy wanted and every childbirth safe." 

Despite maternal and newborn health advances, many countries, especially those in sub-Saharan Africa, will fail to reach the Millennium Development Goal target of reducing such deaths by 75 per cent by 2015.

According to UNFPA, a woman dies of childbirth-related problems every two minutes, with 99 per cent of the deaths occurring in developing countries.