WHO/Tomislav Georgiev

Maternal mortality rates stagnate in some countries in Europe despite recent progress, new data warn

New data released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other United Nations agencies warn of stagnation in maternal mortality rates in some countries in Europe between 2016 and 2020, despite progress made over the past 20 years.

Maternal mortality is a key indicator of women’s health and a measure of a health system’s efforts to promote sexual and reproductive health. The new report “Trends in maternal mortality 2000 to 2020” uses available national data on maternal mortality from 2000 to 2020. It finds that progress in some countries slowed down or stopped between 2016 and 2020.

In 2020, around 1000 women in the WHO European Region died due to complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. „Each and every one of these deaths represents a heartbreaking loss of a woman or girl, and all the opportunities she could have had in the future. Maternal mortality is a devastating reality that can be prevented if women are provided with timely and adequate care during pregnancy and childbirth,“ says WHO Regional Director for Europe Dr. Kluge. 

„We know that social determinants such as income, access to education, race and ethnicity put some groups at greater risk. Investments in the health system, such as in the right infrastructure and equipment, proper staffing, and the training of health providers, can lead to better outcomes. It is clear that to tackle this unfinished agenda, we need action from all sectors in society.“

Improving maternal health remains a key priority for WHO/Europe. Health for all cannot be achieved until all patients, including mothers and newborns, receive the best and safest quality care. A strong focus should be on eliminating inequities in access to and quality of maternal care, and on ensuring universal health coverage. Successful implementation of universal health coverage is key to strengthening health systems.


Access the published report here and find the article here.

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