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Regular version of the site

Article

Global, regional, and national levels of maternal mortality, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015

The Lancet. 2016. Vol. 388. No. 1053. P. 1775-1812.

coBverage of specific reproductive health care services as well as assessment of observed versus expected maternal mortality as a function of Socio-Demographic Index (SDI), a summary indicator derived from measures of income per capita, educational attainment, and fertility.

Findings

Only ten countries achieved MDG 5, but 122 of 195 countries have already met SDG 3.1. Geographic disparities widened and, in 2015, there were still 24 countries with MMR greater than 400. The proportion of all maternal deaths occurring in the bottom two SDI quintiles, where haemorrhage is the dominant cause of maternal death, increased from roughly 68% in 1990 to more than 80% in 2015. The middle SDI quintile improved the most from 1990 to 2015, but also has the most complicated etiologic profile. Maternal mortality in the highest SDI quintile is mostly due to other direct maternal disorders, indirect maternal disorders, and abortion, ectopic pregnancy, and miscarriage. Historical patterns suggest achievement of SDG 3.1 will require 91% coverage of one antenatal care (ANC) visit, 78% of four ANC visits, 81% of in-facility delivery (IFD), and 87% of skilled birth attendance (SBA).

Interpretation

Several challenges to improving reproductive health lie ahead in the SDG era. Countries should: a) establish or renew systems for collection and timely dissemination of health data; b) expand coverage and improve quality of family planning services, including access to contraception and safe abortion to address high adolescent fertility; c) invest in improving health system capacity, including coverage of routine reproductive health care and of more advanced obstetric care—including emergency obstetric care (EmOC); d) Adapt health systems and data collection systems to monitor and reverse the increase in indirect, other direct, and late maternal deaths, especially in high SDI locations; e) Examine their own performance with respect to their SDI level, using that information to formulate strategies for improving performance and ensuring optimum reproductive health of their population.