New York Times (05.16.12) - Friday, May 18, 2012
Increases in contraceptive use, health care provider-assisted
births, and treatment for HIV-positive mothers have helped cut
the maternal death rate by 47 percent since 1990, according to
In 2010, maternal deaths declined to roughly 287,000, from the
UN's estimate of 543,000 in 1990. Deaths are falling rapidly
in East Asia but slowly in Africa, according to the report
compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, the
UN Population Fund, the UN Population Division, the World
Bank, and a team from the University of California-Berkeley.
Countries in southern Africa are witnessing the start of a
reversal as more HIV-positive women there receive
UN maternal death estimates have been challenged in the past.
Two years ago, the Institute for Health Metrics and
Evaluation, which was created by the Bill & Melinda Gates
Foundation as a way to validate WHO figures, disputed the UN's
2008 tally using three times as much data. In response, the UN
"revised and improved" its count for that year. The institute
estimated maternal deaths at 274,000 in 2011, meaning the new
UN number is within the same statistical boundaries, said Dr.
Rafael Lozano, epidemiologist for IHME.