Water and sanitation issues 'key to reaching maternal and newborn health targets'

Providing access to clean water and good sanitation are key to reaching international maternal and newborn health targets.

This is according to the authors of a recent study published in the journal Environmental Health, who are based at the United Nations University's Institute for Water, Environment and Health, McMaster University and the Population Health Research Institute in Hamilton, Canada.

Analysing data from 193 countries, the team found there are around 4.7 more deaths per 1,000 children under the age of five in places in the lowest quartile when assessed for access to safe water than those in the highest 25 per cent.

Maternal mortality is also higher in these areas, with the odds of new mothers dying increasing by 42 per cent compared with the top tier.

The regions in the lowest quartile when it comes to sanitation saw around 6.6 more fatalities per 1,000 in children under five and a 48 per cent rise in the odds of women passing away in the year after giving birth.

"If the world is to seriously address the Millennium Development Goals of reducing child and maternal mortality, then improved water and sanitation accesses are key strategies," the researchers stated.

One of these targets is to provide universal access to reproductive health across the wor