Nigeria is among the sub-Saharan African countries that contribute 97 percent of maternal mortality that is preventable, health experts have lamented as more than 1,500 global stakeholders meet at the International Maternal and Newborn Health Conference (IMNHC2023).
Disclosing this was Dr. Koki Agarwal, Director, MOMENTUM Country and Global Leadership, who raised the alarm that progress in reducing the number of maternal deaths worldwide in recent years are marginal and inadequate to meet the global United Nations (UN) SDGs targets.
Dr. Agarwal, who is also a physician and seasoned public health practitioner, therefore called for increased collaboration and investment to improve on maternal and newborn healthcare.
She spoke in Cape Town, South Africa on Sunday, May 7, on the eve of commencement of the first International Maternal and Newborn Health Conference (IMNHC2023).
Dr. Agarwal, who also doubles as a public health expert, spoke while addressing a group of health journalists on her presentation on state of maternal and newborn health, titled, ‘Global Maternal and Newborn Health in a Changing World.’
The SDG 3 aims to prevent needless suffering from preventable diseases and premature death by focusing on key targets that boost the health of a country’s overall population.
The Vice President, DC Operations, Johns Hopkins Programme for International Education in Gynecology and Obstetrics (Jhpiego), elaborated the global and national goals for maternal and neonatal mortality.
Giving the SDGs country target, she said, “The supplementary national target is that no country should have an MMR greater than 140 per 100,000 live births (a number twice the global target) by 2030.
“By 2030, all countries should reduce MMR by at least two-thirds of 2010 baseline. National Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) 12 deaths per 1000 live births by 2030 (<10 by 2035) National Stillbirth Rate (SBR)<12 stillborn per 1,000 total births by 2020(< 10 by 2035).”
Giving the breakdown of SDG 3.1, she said, “By 2030, countries are expected to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births; and no country should have an MMR> 140 per 100,000 live births.”
On SDG 3.2, Dr. Agarwal said, “By 2030, countries are expected to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births.”
Analysing the global maternal and newborn child mortality rates, Dr. Agarwal said although there has been some progress over the last few years, challenges still remain.
“Progress is incredible. For example, in the last 30 years, global maternal deaths have dropped dramatically by more than 40 percent.” Similarly, she noted that declines were seen for newborn deaths.
Dr. Agarwal stressed, “But overall, progress is too slow to meet these goals in many places and global averages measuring progress hide important differences among regions and countries and, within countries, socio-economic and ethnic groups, as well as rural and urban communities. So now is not the time to let our foot off the gas.”
Specifically, on maternal mortality, the Vice President, DC Operations, Jhpiego, citing the UN reports said that there was a decline by 34 percent since 2000, but stagnation from 2015 to 2020 as maternal deaths stood at 287,000 in 2020.