Where do you think the U.S. ranks in terms of maternal and childhood care in the world? If you said number one, you would be wrong. By 30 spots actually. The Save the Children foundation released its 14th annual State of the World's Mothers Report and that global distinction goes to Finland, where mothers have greater overall health, education, and economic and political status.
The report ranks 176 countries in terms of maternal and infant health. This year, the U.S. lost five spots from last year’s 25th-place ranking. Still, we are lucky compared to so many other mothers across the world.
The reality is that, while globally, the number of children dying has declined by more than half, we still have a long, long way to go before newborn infants aren't at risk for dying from preventable illnesses and mothers aren't in danger just because they have given birth. The report highlights so much progress and also so many places we still have to go. See below:
Global Maternal Health by the Numbers:
• 1: The day that is the most dangerous for women and newborns. Children have the greatest risk of dying on the day they are born.
• 7: Number of countries that score in the bottom 10 BOTH in maternal health outcomes and newborn health. These include: Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Sierra Leone, and Somalia; they score in the bottom 10 on both indices.
• 40: Percent more likely a poor newborn will die than a wealthier one, even in countries that score lower overall.
• 60: The percent of infant deaths that happen in the first six months.
• 75: The percent of newborn deaths that could be prevented with simple, preventative care.
• 98-99: Percent of newborn deaths that occur in developing countries where pregnant women and newborn babies lack access to basic health care services.
• 176: Number of countries indexed by Save the Children in their State of the World Mothers report.
• 800: The number of women who die every day in childbirth worldwide.
• 360,000: Number of newborns in India who would be saved if poorer children experienced the same survival rates as newborns from the richest Indian families.
• 423,000: Number of babies who die in South East Asia every year.
• 3 million: Number of newborn babies who die every year, almost 3/4 of which are from preventable diseases.
• 40 million: The number of women who give birth every year worldwide without the assistance of a trained professional.
As Melinda Gates says in the report:
Any report on the state of the world’s mothers is by definition a report on the state of the world, full stop. Women and girls -- in many roles, including their role as mothers -- drive improvements in the human condition. When we invest in them, we invest in a powerful source of global development.
Mothers matter. We know this. It's very easy to ignore global poverty until it stares you in the face, stark as day. Those of us who take our health for granted and who expect the most from our healthcare system ought to be the most outraged. We have come so very far thanks to organizations like STC, but we still have so much more ground to cover.
Do these numbers surprise you?
Image via Sasha Brown-Worsham