Dying: Millions of women in childbirth, newborns, and young children

Progress on maternal and child health lags

While considerable progress has been made towards meeting other Millennium Development Goals, the two goals on maternal and child survival have lagged behind, prompting a renewed effort to meet them.

“Because we know what causes these deaths and what would prevent them, major progress is possible,” says Jennifer Bryce, a child health researcher at Johns Hopkins University and a member of the Countdown group. “The Countdown analysis provides a road map, helping countries focus on their own data and take action to meet their specific needs.”

Already 135 countries have child mortality rates of less than 40 per 1,000 live births or have a rate of reduction sufficient to meet the goal of two-thirds reduction by 2015, according to UNICEF. Currently 39 show insufficient progress and 18 show no progress or a worsening of child mortality, says UNICEF.

“This is a multi-layered problem that can be addressed with a combination of many, very simple interventions", says Flavia Bustreo, M.D., Director of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH), a group of more than 300 organizations, foundations, institutions, and countries that is one of the leaders in this effort.