Maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health

Maternal health

Investing in trained midwives across Liberia

A midwife guides a mother who is breastfeeding her baby, Liberia.

5 May 2016 -- In Liberia, about 44% of women give birth at home without a skilled birth attendant. Nearly 1 in 138 live births result in a mother dying from preventable causes such as haemorrhage, sepsis or other reasons related to limited access to either basic midwifery or emergency obstetric care, such as caesarean sections. To improve access to quality midwifery care, the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, WHO and other partners are working to strengthen the country’s 6 midwifery schools, 3 of which are located in rural areas.

Increasing breastfeeding could save 800 000 children and US$ 300 billion every year

A mother breastfeeding her baby, Hong Kong.
EPA/Alex Hofford

29 January 2016 -- A major new Series on breastfeeding, published in “The Lancet”, finds that despite strong health and economic benefits from breastfeeding, few children are exclusively breastfed until 6 months, as recommended by WHO. Globally, an estimated 1 in 3 infants under 6 months are exclusively breastfed – a rate that has not improved in 2 decades.

Maternity waiting homes protect newborns and mothers in Namibia


19 January 2016 -- More than 2.6 million stillbirths occur globally every year. In Namibia WHO worked with the Ministry of Health to build maternal waiting homes to bring mothers closer to the care they need before, during, and after birth. Averting still births has been one of the programme’s big successes. But worldwide there has been little change in the number of stillbirths, despite significant reductions in the number of maternal and child deaths worldwide.

Maternal deaths fell 44% since 1990 – UN

12 November 2015 -- Maternal mortality fell by 44% since 1990, United Nations agencies and the World Bank Group reported today. Maternal deaths around the world dropped from about 532 000 in 1990 to an estimated 303 000 this year, according to the report, the last in a series that has looked at progress under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This equates to an estimated global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 216 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births, down from 385 in 1990.