How Japan reduced maternal mortality in one generation
Brief: Professor Wendy J Graham, Principal Investigator, Immpact, University of Aberdeen
In 1950, Japan had a maternal mortality ratio similar to that found in developing countries such as Jamaica and Tajikistan. By 2005, this level had been reduced so dramatically that Japan now has one of the lowest levels of maternal mortality in the world. As Japan prepares to host the 2008 G8 Summit in Japan this July, learn how the country tackled maternal mortality in this brief by Professor Wendy J Graham, Principal Investigator, Immpact, University of Aberdeen.
Japan: Setting and example to the world in reducing maternal mortality
The remarkable success of Japan in reducing deaths among mothers and babies has been achieved within the lifetime of one generation. It has thus been witnessed by the current generation of senior statesmen and stateswomen in Japan. There is an opportunity to share this success with the rest of the world. The leadership of the G8 by Japan provides this opportunity – let us seize this historic moment at the Summit in July 2008.
- In 1950, Japan had a maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of around 180 deaths for every 100,000 live births – similar to that found in some developing countries today, like Jamaica and Tajikistan.
- By 2004/5, this level had been reduced dramatically to just 6 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births – making it one of the lowest levels of maternal mortality in the world. This compares favourably with other countries in the G8, particularly the United Kingdom (MMR=8,), Russia (MMR=28), and the USA (MMR=11).
- Japan achieved a particularly dramatic fall in maternal mortality over just a ten-year period from 1960 to 1970, with the MMR declining from around 130 to 50 – lmost a two-thirds reduction. This provides encouragement to many developing countries trying to achieve significant falls in maternal mortality in the period remaining up to 2015 – the target year for the Millennium Declaration.