This story was originally published by Global Health NOW
After decades of effort by the global health community and governments, more women are giving birth in health facilities than ever, and maternal and newborn mortality have declined since 1990.
But global and country-level averages hide a tragic, more complex story: Even in countries where 80% of births take place in health facilities or are attended by skilled health workers, maternal mortality often remains high.
Many of these deaths could be prevented. In the 81 countries with the highest maternal and neonatal mortality rates, well-functioning health systems would prevent 520,000 stillbirths, and save the lives of 670,000 babies and 86,000 women by 2020—even at current rates of access to maternal and newborn health services, according to the November 2018 report from The Lancet Global Health Commission for High-Quality Health Systems.