Continuing the Commitment to Maternal & Infant Care Around the World—status and future focus

Suzanne Kroll

Part 2 of a 3-part series on global maternal and infant health 

Read part 1 of this series here

Earlier this year, I traveled to United Arab Emirates to attend the 2014 Arab Health Congress, where I met many healthcare providers and professionals who were very excited about the growth in global healthcare services with continued investments and expansions.  One conversation in particular led me to the idea of writing this 3-part series on global maternal and infant health and the initiatives associated with the Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). That conversation was centered on the MDGs and the fact that, although maternal and infant care has hugely improved in certain countries around the globe, there remains so much room for improvement.


Gaps exist among the international community between improving maternal and infant health targets (MDG 4 and 5, respectively) and maternal and infant mortality rates. Since 2000, improvements have been made, but, unfortunately for many countries, the improvements fall short of the goal of achieving MDGs 4 and 5, which aim to decrease children under-five mortality to 30 deaths per 1,000 live births and maternal mortality to 100 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.1 In order to achieve these goals by 2015, child mortality would need to decrease by 4.4% annually even though it has only declined by 2.2% annually between 1990 and 2011. Similarly, to achieve MDG 5, maternal mortality would need to decrease by a rate of 5.5% annually; however, the rate of decline has been only 1.9% annually since 1990.2

What are the top 10 countries with the lowest & highest infant mortality rates?

The top 10 countries with the lowest infant mortality rates around the globe are 1) Monaco, 2) Japan,  3) Bermuda, 4) Singapore, 5) Sweden, 6) Hong Kong, 7) Macau, 8) Iceland, 9) Italy and 10) France.  The top 10 countries with the highest infant mortality rates are 1) Afghanistan, 2) Mali, 3) Somalia, 4) Central African Republic, 5) Guinea-Bissau, 6) Chad, 7) Niger, 8) Angola, 9) Burkina Faso,  and 10) Malawi.3

It’s important to point out that the infant mortality statistics are an estimate as it is difficult to capture accurate figures for new born mortality rates, and many early deaths go unreported or are wrongly classified.  The same is true of maternal mortality rates—they are only estimates.

What are the top 10 countries with the lowest & highest maternal mortality rates?

The top 10 countries with the lowest maternal mortality rates are 1) Estonia, 2) Greece, 3) Singapore, 4) Belarus, 5) Italy, 6) Sweden, 7) Austria, 8) Iceland, 9) Japan and 10) Poland. And the top 10 countries with the highest maternal mortality rates are 1) South Sedan, 2) Chad, 3) Somalia, 4) Central African Republic, 5) Sierra Leone, 6) Burundi, 7) Guinea-Bissau, 8) Liberia, 9) Sudan, and 10) Cameroon.4

Beyond MDGs

International organizations are concentrating on initiatives that will continue to focus on maternal and infant health after 2015.  Addressing major causes of maternal and infant mortality is welcomed by GE Healthcare and should continue to be a priority for governments, international organizations, and the private sector.

National Infant Mortality Awareness month

Reminder that September is National Infant Mortality Awareness month.  In part 3 of this series, I’ll review initiatives that are addressing the problems and actions to reduce the risk.

GE Healthcare’s maternal and infant healthcare products align closely with areas where there is the most need for maternal and infant care in the developing and developed world. For details on maternal and infant care solutions available from GE Healthcare today, please visit our Centricity Perinatal webpageand Maternal-Infant Care Products webpage.


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1   UN. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013

2    WHO. Every Woman, Every Child: From Commitments to Action. 2012

3      CIA World Factbook Infant mortality (deaths/1,000 live births) – 2013 estimates

4     The World Factbook

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