Maternal and newborn health
In 2010, some 58,000 women died in the region related to pregnancy and delivery, accounting for more than one fifth of all such deaths in the world.
Most maternal deaths are caused by obstetric complications such haemorrhage, hypertensive disorders and sepsis as well as abortions.Half of all births in the region occur without the support of a skilled birth attendant.
In Ethiopia, for example, 94 percent of women deliver their babies without any trained health professional. In Somalia, a woman’s lifetime risk of dying from maternal causes is 1 in 14, one of the highest in the world.
For the region, the maternal mortality rate stood at 410 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010, compared to 740/100,000 in 1990. Progress is being made, but the annual reduction rate of 2.9 percent is among some of the lowest in the world.
Only one country in the region – Eritrea - is on track towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality by three quarters between 1990 and 2015.
More on maternal and newborn health
South Africa, 18 Apr 2013: The gift of life proving to be the greatest threat to newborns
South Africa, 15 Apr 2013: Global Conference Stresses Urgent Need to Prioritize the Health of Newborns