Unicef praises major leap forward in maternal mortality

Of the 75 countries that account for more than 95 per cent of all maternal and child mortalities, 30 reduced maternal mortality rates by 50 per cent or more between 1990 and 2010, Unicef has revealed.

In 1990, 543,000 women died from complications arising during pregnancy or childbirth - a figure reduced to 287,000 in 2010.

The figures were published in a new report from Countdown to 2015, which tracks the progress of the 75 highest-risk countries as the deadline for the UN's Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) approaches.

It was noted that more than half of the countries surveyed recorded faster progress between 2000 and 2010 than they did in the preceding decade.

Global maternal mortality rates are targeted by MDG 5, which specifies a reduction to one-quarter of 1990 levels by 2015.

"We are very pleased to see that many countries are making a major leap forward and have managed to save so many lives in a relatively short period of time," said Mickey Chopra, Unicef chief of health and co-chair of Countdown to 2015.