10 facts on maternal health

A pregnant woman in Sudan.

Updated May 2014

About 289 000 women died in 2013 of complications during pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths can be avoided as the necessary medical interventions exist and are well known. The key obstacle is pregnant women's lack of access to quality care before, during and after childbirth.

Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5), improve maternal health, set the targets of reducing maternal mortality by 75% and achieving universal access to reproductive health by 2015. But, so far progress in reducing mortality in developing countries and providing family planning services has been too slow to meet the targets.

WHO is supporting countries in delivering integrated, evidence-based and cost-effective care for mothers and babies during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period. Investing in health systems – especially in training midwives and in making emergency obstetric care available round-the-clock – is key to reducing maternal mortality.

Read 10 facts on maternal health

Related links