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A mother or baby dies in childbirth every 11 SECONDS, UNICEF report reveals

British mothers are almost four times more likely to die during childbirth than those in Poland or Belarus, a report has revealed.

UNICEF today published figures that show one mother or her newborn baby will die during childbirth every 11 seconds. 

The charity’s country-by-country breakdown revealed seven mothers per 100,000 in the UK died during childbirth in 2017. 

The UK ranks joint-26th best in the global league table, alongside countries such as Turkmenistan and Macedonia and behind Montenegro.

The US fared even worse. It ranks at joint-56th place with 19 mothers out of every 100,000 dying during childbirth.

Poland, Norway, Italy and Belarus, meanwhile, had the joint lowest death rate at just two.

In South Sudan, the worst affected nation, 1,150 mothers died out of every 100,000 who went into labour in 2017. 

Women in sub-Saharan Africa face the biggest risk of dying during childbirth, with mothers in South Sudan facing a one in 87 chance of death. Afghanistan is the only country in the 10 worst affected which isn’t in Africa

Despite global improvements in survival rates there are still 2.8million deaths shortly after birth every year, UNICEF warned.

Preventable diseases, dirty water and a lack of basic medicines and vaccines are to blame for many of these deaths, with women in poorer countries worst affected.

‘Around the world, birth is a joyous occasion. Yet, every 11 seconds, a birth is a family tragedy,’ said Henrietta Fore, executive director of UNICEF.

‘A skilled pair of hands to help mothers and newborns around the time of birth, along with clean water, adequate nutrition, basic medicines and vaccines, can make the difference between life and death.

‘We must do all it takes to invest in universal health coverage to save these precious lives.’

UNICEF said governments around the world must invest more in preventing killer illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and sepsis, and to make sure families have access to skilled health workers.

The international charity also called for all women to have access to clinics with clean water, soap and electricity.

Its research discovered that almost 6.2million under-15s died in 2018, with 85 per cent of those happening before the child turned five.

Some 7,000 newborn babies died every day in 2018, three quarters of them within a week of being born.

‘In countries that provide everyone with safe, affordable, high-quality health services, women and babies survive and thrive,’ said the World Health Organization’s director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

WHERE ARE MOTHERS MOST LIKELY TO DIE DURING CHILDBIRTH? 

  1. South Sudan (1,150 deaths per 100,000 births in 2017)
  2. Chad (1,140)
  3. Sierra Leone (1,120)
  4. Nigeria (917)
  5. Central African Republic (829)
  6. Somalia (829)
  7. Mauritania (766) 
  8. Guinea-Bissau (667)
  9. Liberia (661)
  10. Afghanistan (638) 

WHERE ARE MOTHERS LEAST LIKELY TO DIE DURING CHILDBIRTH? 

  1. Poland (2 deaths per 100,000 births in 2017
  2. Norway (2)
  3. Italy (2)
  4. Belarus (2)
  5. United Arab Emirates (3)
  6. Israel (3)
  7. Greece (3)
  8. Finland (3)
  9. Czech Republic (3)
  10. Sweden (4)  

The statistics released by UNICEF revealed the countries where mothers’ death rates were the highest in 2017.

After South Sudan, the other countries suffering the most childbirth-related deaths were Chad (1,140 per 100,000 births), Sierra Leone (1,120), Nigeria (917), Central African Republic (829), Somalia (829), Mauritania (766), Guinea-Bissau (667), Liberia (661) and Afghanistan (638).

All but one of the top 10 were in Africa – women in sub-Saharan Africa face a one in 37 risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth over their lifetime.   

By comparison, the lifetime risk for a woman in Europe is one in 6,500. 

Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia account for around 80 per cent of global maternal and child deaths. 

In 2018, one in every 13 children in sub-Saharan Africa died before their fifth birthday.

This was 15 times higher than the risk a child faces in Europe, where just one in 196 under-fives die.

The countries where women were least likely to die during childbirth in 2017 were – after the four mentioned earlier – United Arab Emirates (three deaths per 100,000 births), Israel (3), Greece (3), Finland (3), Czech Republic (3) and Sweden (4).  

WHICH COUNTRIES HAVE THE HIGHEST RATES OF MATERNAL DEATHS? 
Country Mothers’ deaths per 100,000 births (2017) Country Mothers’ deaths per 100,000 births (2017) Country Mothers’ deaths per 100,000 births (2017)
South Sudan 1,150 Philippines 121 Latvia 19
Chad 1,140 Suriname 120 Oman 19
Sierra Leone 1,120 South Africa 119 Moldova 19
Nigeria 917 Saint Lucia 117 Romania 19
Central African Republic 829 Algeria 112 Ukraine 19
Somalia 829 Solomon Islands 104 USA 19
Mauritania 766 Nicaragua 98 Russia 17
Guinea-Bissau 667 Dominican Republic 95 Saudi Arabia 17
Liberia 661 Guatemala 95 Tajikistan 17
Afghanistan 638 Kiribati 92 Turkey 17
Cote d’Ivoire 617 North Korea 89 Uruguay 17
Gambia 597 Micronesia 88 Iran 16
Guinea 576 Peru 88 Albania 15
Mali 562 Paraguay 84 Bahrain 14
Burundi 548 Colombia 83 Chile 13
Lesotho 544 Jamaica 80 Hungary 12
Cameroon 529 Iraq 79 Kuwait 12
Tanzania 524 Libya 72 Serbia 12
Niger 509 Vanuatu 72 South Korea 11
Eritrea 480 Bahamas 70 Bosnia & Herzegovina 10
Haiti 480 Morocco 70 Bulgaria 10
DR Congo 473 St Vincent & Grenadines 68 Canada 10
Zimbabwe 458 Trinidad & Tobago 67 Kazakhstan 10
Eswatini 437 Honduras 65 Estonia 9
Ethiopia 401 Mauritius 61 New Zealand 9
Benin 397 Brazil 60 Qatar 9
Togo 396 Kyrgyzstan 60 Croatia 8
Congo 378 Ecuador 59 France 8
Uganda 375 Cape Verde 58 Lithuania 8
Malawi 349 Maldives 53 Portugal 8
Kenya 342 Seychelles 53 Singapore 8
Madagascar 335 Panama 52 Germany 7
Burkina Faso 320 Tonga 52 Macedonia 7
Senegal 315 El Salvador 46 Slovenia 7
Ghana 308 Jordan 46 Turkmenistan 7
Equatorial Guinea 301 Mongolia 45 United Kingdom 7
Sudan 295 Samoa 43 Australia 6
Mozambique 289 Tunisia 43 Cyprus 6
Comoros 273 Vietnam 43 Malta 6
Gabon 252 Antigua & Barbuda 42 Montenegro 6
Myanmar 250 Argentina 39 Austria 5
Djibouti 248 Egypt 37 Belgium 5
Rwanda 248 Thailand 37 Ireland 5
Angola 241 Belize 36 Japan 5
Nepal 236 Cuba 36 Luxembourg 5
Zambia 213 Sri Lanka 36 Netherlands 5
Namibia 195 Fiji 34 Slovakia 5
Laos 185 Mexico 33 Switzerland 5
Bhutan 183 Brunei 31 Denmark 4
Indonesia 177 Syria 31 Iceland 4
Bangladesh 173 China 29 Spain 4
Guyana 169 Lebanon 29 Sweden 4
Yemen 164 Malaysia 29 Czech Republic 3
Cambodia 160 Uzbekistan 29 Finland 3
Bolivia 155 Barbados 27 Greece 3
India 145 Costa Rica 27 Israel 3
Papua New Guinea 145 West Bank & Gaza Strip 27 United Arab Emirates 3
Botswana 144 Armenia 26 Belarus 2
Timor-Leste 142 Azerbaijan 26 Italy 2
Pakistan 140 Georgia 25 Norway 2
Sao Tome & Principe 130 Grenada 25 Poland 2
Venezuela 125 Puerto Rico 21 Source: UNICEF

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