MDG 5: Improve Maternal Health

girls worldwide say "every mother's life and health is precious"

Maternal health includes family planning, preconception, prenatal and postnatal care. The aim is to reduce the maternal mortality (death) ratio by three quarters.

Are targets being met?

  • Although there has been big improvement in maternal health over the last century, the last decade has shown a slow rate of improvement in maternal mortality and not all countries have improved equally. Only about 17 per cent of countries are on track to meet the MDG target.
  • In the mid 1990s, the Honduran government adopted a four point plan to fight maternal deaths. The nation also put a monitoring system in place to find out the cause of death in all recorded maternal death cases. Five years later, Honduras had reduced its maternal mortality rate by half.
  • Over the last four years in Rajasthan, India, the percentage of deliveries assisted by skilled birth attendants increased by more than 30 percent.

Did you know?

  • More than half a million women die in pregnancy and child birth every year – that’s one death every minute. Of these deaths 99 per cent are in developing countries.
  • Currently, 200 million women have an unmet need for safe and effective contraceptive devices.
  • 8 million babies die each year before or during delivery or in the first week of life. Also, children that are left motherless are 10 times more likely to die within two years of their mothers’ death.

Position Statements

WAGGGS has published several position statements on issues that are relevant to girls and young women worldwide. The statements contain information on what WAGGGS has to say about the topic, background facts and case studies. WAGGGS’ Member Organizations can find them on the Members’ Area of WAGGGS’ website or you can request them from


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