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Important decline in maternal and child mortality

New drugs, vaccines and other health innovations led to 4.2 million fewer child deaths in 2013, compared to 1990, according with the study published in The Lancet.

Thursday, May 22th, 2014

Important decline in maternal and child mortality

Since the start of an international effort to address maternal and child deaths, millions of lives have been saved in South and Southeast Asia, according to two separated studies published in the Lancet at the beginning of May and leaded by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington, with the participation of researchers from CREAL, an ISGlobal research center.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established in 2000 by the United Nations to drive maternal and child deaths down by 2015. Child and maternal deaths had been falling in most countries since the 1980s, but the pace accelerated after the goals were set. If countries continue on this course, child deaths will fall from more than 6 million in 2013 to fewer than 4 million in 2030. In South and Southeast Asia, child and maternal death rates are falling faster than the global average.

The studies find that child death rates dropped by 48% globally between 1990 and 2013. However, 6.3 million children still died before their fifth birthday in 2013. Maternal deaths fell significantly over the same period, though 293,000 women still died in 2013 from pregnancy-related causes.

The vast majority of countries have seen accelerated reductions in maternal and child deaths, with child deaths declining by 3.5% per year since 2000 and maternal deaths by 2.7% per year since 2003. In South and Southeast Asia, significant progress has been made in reducing maternal mortality, faster than rates achieved at the global level.

Key drivers of progress in reducing child deaths at the global level include maternal education, medical and public health innovations, and rising income. For each additional year of school mothers complete, child death rates drop by more than 8%. New drugs, vaccines and other health innovations led to 4.2 million fewer child deaths in 2013, compared to 1990; and rising per capita income led to more than 900,000 fewer child deaths. Policies that reduce anemia and malnutrition, prevent malaria during pregnancy, provide calcium and micronutrient supplementation, and encourage skilled birth attendance likely will lead to even greater improvements in child and maternal health, the researchers note.


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