Continuing the Commitment to Maternal & Infant Care Around the World

Suzanne Kroll

Content: Part 1 of a 3 part series on global maternal and infant health 

The global deadline for countries to meet the Eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 is fast approaching. It was September 2000 when the United Nation’s member states and various international organizations set out to achieve the eight global development objectives and committed to eradicate poverty and hunger, provide education to all children with equal opportunities for both genders, protect the environment, and establish a global partnership for development. Improving maternal and infant health are MDGs 4 and 5, respectively. Specifically, MDG 4 plans to reduce the under-five child mortality rate by two thirds, and MDG 5 aims to cut the maternal mortality by 75% from 1990 to 2015.1

Selected key maternal and infant mortality statistics

Did you know that the World Health Organization estimates that every single day approximately 800 women around the world die from preventable causes related to pregnancy and childbirth? That equates to every 90 seconds a woman dying from childbirth or pregnancy-related issues. Ninety-nine percent of those maternal deaths occur in developing countries. And the deaths are higher for women living in rural areas and among poorer communities.2 For children, the risk of dying is highest in the neonatal period, which is the first 28 days of their life. The World Health Organization states that to prevent these deaths, safe childbirth and effective neonatal care are essential. Forty-four percent of child deaths under the age of five take place during the neonatal period. Preterm birth, intrapartum-related complications (birth asphyxia or lack of breathing at birth), and infections cause most neonatal deaths.3

MDGs progress

I’m happy to report that to date, there has been significant progress toward achieving the MDGs. A 41% reduction in child mortality and 47% in maternal mortality reduction was accomplished between 1990 and 2011. But in spite of the progress, several dozen countries may not meet the MDGs 4 and 5 by 2015.4

GE Healthcare’s commitment

I’m proud to be part of GE Healthcare’s top-priority commitment to global maternal and infant well-being. We continue to innovate and deliver medical technologies designed to support the needs of maternal and infant health through partnerships with organizations and countries around the world.

Get involved to sustain the momentum generated by the MDGs

Numerous international organizations have increased their efforts to assist developing countries in meeting their goals. In addition, organizations are supporting the post-2015 development agenda to continue the efforts beyond the MDGs. GE Healthcare encourages governments and international organizations to:

  • Build on existing MDG commitments and develop post-2015 plans for maternal and infant health
  • Train and support healthcare workers in maternal and infant care
  • Meet maternal and infant health MDG spending commitments
  • Look for ways to partner with the private sector

I invite you to check out some of the key reports and websites on this issue, in addition to the ones footnoted:

The Millennium Development Goals: 2013 Progress Chart. 

The Millennium Development Goal Report 2013 / Addendum. Goal 4 Reduce child mortality.

Post 2015 – United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

GE. GE’s Commitment to Addressing Maternal and Infant Health Whitepaper. 2013.

I think it’s very fitting that throughout the world, many countries will soon celebrate Mother’s Day, a time to honor mothers and recognize the significant role they play in our global society. Wishing all moms a happy and healthy Mother’s Day!


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1 OECD. The OECD and the Millennium Development Goals

2 World Health Organization. Factsheet 348, May 2012. 

3 World Health Organization. Factsheet N178, September 2013. 

4  UN. The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013. 

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