19 September, 2019
More women and newborns survive now than ever before, says a new United Nations report. But it also found that a baby or a pregnant woman still dies every 11 seconds somewhere in the world.
The UN agencies UNICEF and the World Health Organization (WHO) wrote the report. It says that child deaths have decreased by almost half since the year 2000. Deaths of pregnant women have dropped by more than a third.
These reductions are mostly the result of wider availability of lower-cost, good quality health services.
But the latest data also showed that 5.3 million children worldwide died in 2018 by the age of five. Almost half of those deaths happened before a baby turned one month.
The data also showed more than 290,000 women died because of problems during pregnancy and childbirth in 2017.
Henrietta Fore is UNICEF's lead director. She said in a report, "A skilled pair of hands to help mothers and newborns around the time of birth, along with clean water, adequate nutrition, basic medicines and vaccines, can make the difference between life and death."
Fore urged governments and health leaders to invest in health services to, in her words, "do all it takes ... to save these precious lives."
The data showed huge inequalities around the world. Women and young children in sub-Saharan Africa, for example, have a much higher risk of death than in other large areas.
Levels of maternal deaths are nearly 50 times higher for women in sub-Saharan Africa than in wealthy countries. Babies born there are also 10 times more likely to die in their first month of life, the report found.
The report did note improvements. Since 1990, there has been a 56-percent drop in deaths of children under 15, from 14.2 million a year to 6.2 million in 2018.
Countries in eastern and southeastern Asia have made the most progress. Those areas have seen an 80 percent drop in the number of deaths among children under five.
I'm Caty Weaver.
The Reuters news agency wrote this report. Ashley Thompson adapted it for VOA Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
pair - n. two things that are the same and are meant to be used together
adequate - adj. good enough : of a quality that is good or acceptable
precious - adj. greatly loved, valued, or important