Setting Maternal Mortality Targets for the SDGs

Journal Article
  • Amy Boldosser-Boesch
  • Michel Brun
  • Liliana Carvajal
  • Doris Chou
  • Luc de Bernis
  • Karen Fogg
  • Kathleen Hill
  • Rima Jolivet
  • Betsy McCallon
  • Allisyn Moran
  • Lale Say
  • Jeffrey Smith
  • Mary E. Stanton
  • Petra ten Hoope-Bender
  • Mary N. Wegner
  • the Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality working group
The Lancet
Feb. 2017; 389 (10070): 696–97. DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)30337-9.


The Global Burden of Disease 2015 article on maternal mortality by Nicholas Kassebaum and colleagues (Oct. 8, p. 1775) contains a serious error reflecting a basic misunderstanding of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target for maternal mortality. The report states that “only ten countries achieved MDG 5, but 122 of 195 countries have already met SDG 3.1”. This is a dangerous and inaccurate interpretation of the global goal. The SDG target is a global target, not a country target. To achieve the global target for maternal mortality reduction requires every country to reduce its national maternal mortality ratio from baseline by two-thirds in that timeframe. It is probably safe to assume that no country has succeeded in reducing its maternal mortality ratio by two-thirds since the SDGs were launched in September 2015.