07 August 2017

2017 Maternal Health Campaign Foreword: Since 1990, maternal deaths have been cut by half

By Nana Kuo

The global community has achieved considerable progress for women’s and children’s health in recent years.

From 1990 to 2015, the number of children surviving childhood has increased considerably. Maternal deaths have been cut by half. Yet, gains remain partial and fragile. In 2015, an estimated 303,000 women died from preventable causes during pregnancy and childbirth and an estimated 5.9 million children died before their fifth birthday, mainly of avoidable causes.

Reaching the hard-to-reach

The Every Woman Every Child movement has been instrumental for success, reaching an estimated 273 million women, children and adolescents with life-saving and life-changing services and supplies in the past two years alone. However, if we are serious about achieving globally agreed goals, equity must underpin all efforts, reaching marginalized and overlooked communities, and ensuring that they are counted and heard.

Photo credit: IOM Myanmar/Valeria Turrisi

The impact of social conditions

We must focus on structural determinants and conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age. This includes socioeconomic status, gender equality, education, the environment, and opportunities, as well as access to quality health care and other services, with equity and dignity.


As we address health and wellbeing, we must think about needs across the life span: women beyond childbearing age, children from before conception and throughout the early years, and adolescents from one of the richest periods of their lives well into adulthood. This also means empowering women, children and adolescents, so they are able to meaningfully engage and inform policies and programs that affect them. More than ever, we need concerted action across sectors to ensure that women, children and adolescents survive and thrive to help transform the world.


Check out this foreword on Mediaplanet’s Global Health Action website.

Photo credit: UN/Eskinder Debebe