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Global, regional, and national levels of maternal mortality, 1990–2015: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015

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journal contribution
posted on 2017-01-27, 17:19 authored by GBD 2015 Maternal Mortality Collaborators
Background In transitioning from the Millennium Development Goal to the Sustainable Development Goal era, it is imperative to comprehensively assess progress toward reducing maternal mortality to identify areas of success, remaining challenges, and frame policy discussions. We aimed to quantify maternal mortality throughout the world by underlying cause and age from 1990 to 2015. Methods We estimated maternal mortality at the global, regional, and national levels from 1990 to 2015 for ages 10–54 years by systematically compiling and processing all available data sources from 186 of 195 countries and territories, 11 of which were analysed at the subnational level. We quantified eight underlying causes of maternal death and four timing categories, improving estimation methods since GBD 2013 for adult all-cause mortality, HIV-related maternal mortality, and late maternal death. Secondary analyses then allowed systematic examination of drivers of trends, including the relation between maternal mortality and coverage of specific reproductive health-care services as well as assessment of observed versus expected maternal mortality as a function of Socio-demographic Index (SDI), a summary indicator derived from measures of income per capita, educational attainment, and fertility. Findings Only ten countries achieved MDG 5, but 122 of 195 countries have already met SDG 3.1. Geographical disparities widened between 1990 and 2015 and, in 2015, 24 countries still had a maternal mortality ratio greater than 400. The proportion of all maternal deaths occurring in the bottom two SDI quintiles, where haemorrhage is the dominant cause of maternal death, increased from roughly 68% in 1990 to more than 80% in 2015. The middle SDI quintile improved the most from 1990 to 2015, but also has the most complicated causal profile. Maternal mortality in the highest SDI quintile is mostly due to other direct maternal disorders, indirect maternal disorders, and abortion, ectopic pregnancy, and/or miscarriage. Historical patterns suggest achievement of SDG 3.1 will require 91% coverage of one antenatal care visit, 78% of four antenatal care visits, 81% of in-facility delivery, and 87% of skilled birth attendance. Interpretation Several challenges to improving reproductive health lie ahead in the SDG era. Countries should establish or renew systems for collection and timely dissemination of health data; expand coverage and improve quality of family planning services, including access to contraception and safe abortion to address high adolescent fertility; invest in improving health system capacity, including coverage of routine reproductive health care and of more advanced obstetric care—including EmOC; adapt health systems and data collection systems to monitor and reverse the increase in indirect, other direct, and late maternal deaths, especially in high SDI locations; and examine their own performance with respect to their SDI level, using that information to formulate strategies to improve performance and ensure optimum reproductive health of their population. Funding Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.


We would like to thank the countless individuals who have contributed to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2015 in various capacities. Data for this research was provided by MEASURE Evaluation, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Collection of these data was made possible by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) under the terms of cooperative agreement GPO-A-00-08-000_D3-00. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of USAID, the US Government, or MEASURE Evaluation. The following individuals would like to acknowledge various forms of institutional support: Panniyammakal Jeemon is supported by a clinical and public health intermediate fellowship from the Wellcome Trust-DBT India Alliance (2015-2020). Boris Bikbov, Monica Cortinovis, Giuseppe Remuzzi, and Norberto Perico would like to acknowledge that their contribution to this paper has been on behalf of the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) as a follow-up of the activities of the GBD 2010 Genitourinary Diseases Expert Group. Shifalika Goenka is partially supported through a Wellcome Trust Grant (No: 096735/A/11/Z) and The Bernard Lown Scholars in Cardiovascular Health Program, Harvard School of Public Health. Hjalte H Andersen would like to acknowledge funding received from the EliteForsk 2016 travel grant of the Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science. Amador Goodridge would like to acknowledge funding for me from Sistema Nacional de Investigadores de Panamá-SNI. José das Neves was supported in his contribution to this work by a Fellowship from Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, Portugal (SFRH/BPD/92934/2013). Beatriz Paulina Ayala Quintanilla would like to acknowledge the Institutional support of PRONABEC (National Program of Scholarship and Educational Loan), provided by the Peruvian Government, while studying for her doctoral course at the Judith Lumley Centre of La Trobe University funded by PRONABEC. Ulrich O Mueller gratefu



Lancet, 2016, 388 (10053), pp. 1775-1812

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