10 facts on maternal health

A pregnant woman in Sudan.

Updated November 2015

By the end of 2015, 303 000 women will die of complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths can be avoided as the necessary medical interventions exist and are well known. The key obstacle is pregnant women's lack of access to quality care before, during and after childbirth.

Millennium Development Goal 5, improve maternal health, set the targets of reducing maternal mortality by 75% (MDG 5a) and achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015 (MDG 5b). Despite significant declines, MDG 5a was not met. Progress in reducing mortality in developing countries and providing contraceptive services was insufficient to meet the targets. Looking beyond 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals offer a renewed opportunity to see improvements in maternal health for all women, in all countries, under all circumstances.

WHO is supporting countries to deliver integrated, evidence-based and cost-effective care for mothers and babies during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Investing in health systems – especially in training midwives and in making emergency obstetric care available round-the-clock – is key to reducing maternal mortality.

Read 10 facts on maternal health

Related links