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Millennium Development Goals
Goal 5: maternal health
Goal 5: maternal health

Goal 5: Improve maternal health


Target 6:

Reduce by three-quarters, between 1990 and 2015, the maternal mortality ratio.

Case Study: West Africa

The Maternal Mortality 2000 report - by WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA - shows that a woman living in sub-Saharan Africa has a 1 in 16 chance of dying in pregnancy or childbirth. This compares with a 1 in 2,800 risk for a woman from a developed region.

Of the estimated 529,000 maternal deaths in 2000, 95% occurred in Africa and Asia, while only 4% (22,000) occurred in Latin America and the Caribbean, and less than 1% (2,500) in the more developed regions of the world.

(Maternal Morality in 2000 WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA)
Successful maternal health programmes have shown that the assistance of a skilled health worker during pregnancy and delivery – together with access to emergency medical care should complications arise - can significantly reduce maternal mortality.
As part of a series looking at the Millennium Development Goals, a BBC producer looked at the challenge of reducing maternal mortality.

He spoke to Professor Angela Sawyer-Kamara, who runs the West African Regional Reduction of Maternal Mortality Initiative. Professor Kamara highlighted the lack of transportation in the region and the problems of relying on local buses and taxis.

"When there is an emergency that's when the drivers hike up the fairs," she said.

"That’s when these drivers do not want to take these pregnant women, because there are taboos about women delivering in their cars.

"Should the woman die in the vehicle that is a big issue. The drivers are usually just chucked into jail by the police."

Some innovative new schemes are working. Another BBC producer spoke with Pramila Seneyaki, from the International Planned Parenthood Federation, who described an initiative in West Africa which uses a local truck drivers union to provide emergency transport for women.

"If there is a woman in difficulty in a village what we will do is get her family to plant a yellow flag on the main road," she stated.

"When you see a yellow flag you know there is a woman in trouble.

"Somebody will be there to tell you, 'look my mother is in trouble. If we bring her up to the lorry can you take her the 200 miles?'.

"They were delighted to be able to help and we reduced maternal mortality quite significantly because of this initiative."
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