Skilled attendants at birth
Situation and trends
Most obstetric complications could be prevented or managed if women had access to a skilled birth attendant – doctor, nurse, midwife – during childbirth. Globally coverage of skilled attendant during childbirth increased from 61% in 2000 to 78% in 2016. However, despite steady improvement globally and within regions, millions of births were not assisted by a midwife, a doctor or a trained nurse. In sub-Saharan Africa approximately only half of all live births were delivered with the assistance of skilled birth attendant in 2016.
Improvements in the coverage of the proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel and their provision of care may have contributed to declines in maternal mortality between 1990 and 2015. However, the estimated coverage of births attended by skilled health personnel in 2016 shows inequality between WHO regions as only half of the births in the sub-Saharan Africa Region, where maternal mortality is highest, are attended by skilled health personal whereas in the other WHO regions over 70% to 99% of all births are attended by skilled health personnel.