China / Society

Low maternal death target within reach

By Shan Juan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-26 08:08

China is on target to achieve the United Nations' Millennium Development Goal 5, to reduce maternal deaths by three-quarters by 2015, according to the World Health Organization's director-general Margaret Chan.

The country has already met MDG 4, cutting child mortality by two-thirds from 1990 ahead of schedule.

MDGs are eight international targets that were established following the UN Millennium Summit in 2000. All 189 states that were UN members then, as well as 23 international organizations, committed themselves to help achieve the targets by the end of 2015.

China is one of only seven out of the 75 high-burden priority countries - known as the countdown countries - on target to reduce the mortality rate of children under 5 years old by two-thirds.

The others are Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Liberia, Nepal, and Peru, according to the latest report by the independent Expert Review Group of the WHO's Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health Secretariat.

Chan added: "Nobody should be left behind. The governments should show commitment and be held accountable."

She warned against complacency at a media event on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

China's national maternal mortality rate was 30 out of 100,000 in 2010, a decrease of 66.3 percent from 1999, according to official statistics.

Maternal mortality is the term used to describe women's deaths that are related to pregnancy or childbirth.

Nana Taona Kuo, senior manager of the UN's Every Women Every Child campaign, said MDG 5 was not being met evenly across the country, though the national maternal mortality rate was low.

"There are still hard-to-reach rural areas with limited access to health facilities, so the key is how to reach the vulnerable populations in remote areas," she said.

"The Chinese government has prioritized women and children's health strongly at the policy level, and the capacity of the health system to reach from the top-tier hospitals to the community level is very powerful," she said.

Carole Presern, executive director of the WHO's Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, urged China to maintain the success it achieved with MDG 4 by meeting MDG 5 on time.

"We need to make sure that women and children in those underdeveloped areas can have access to services in the same way as the general population," she said.

But she pointed out that the issue is not solely a health matter, but also involves education.

Worldwide, fewer than half of the countdown countries are likely to meet MDG 4, and only a small fraction will achieve MDG 5, according to the review group.

Joy Phumaphi, co-chair of the group, said: "To achieve MDG 4 and 5, the solid foundation of strong quality health systems and service delivery, offering universal coverage and access to effective interventions throughout the life course within a continuum of care and service delivery, must be delivered urgently."

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