With 830 women dying of pregnancy- or childbirth-related complications every day, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), maternal mortality rates are unacceptablly high around the world. In 2015, reports WHO, approximately 303,000 women died during and after pregnancy and childbirth, most of preventable causes and in low-resource settings.
To help combat maternal mortality rates globally, the US government has invested more than $15 billion since 2008 in innovative measures to accelerate reduction in deaths. These efforts are led by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the lead US Government agency working to end extreme global poverty and enable resilient, democratic societies to realize their potential. Estimates indicate that in the past 10 years, USAID’s efforts in 25 priority countries have saved the lives of 200,000 women. The Agency’s efforts are complemented by work done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, and the Peace Corps.
USAID currently is working with the global community on an End Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) initiative designed to achieve a target maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of fewer than 50 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2035. That goal is equivalent to the highest MMR of any Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) country
The Agency’s geographic focus for EPMM is on 24 countries where 70% of maternal deaths occur. USAID is developing targeted, context-specific, country-based programming that will result in sustainable programs for improved health. These initiatives address the main drivers of maternal death, such as poverty, cultural and gender norms, age, ethnicity, religion, social stigma, and geographical location.