Has maternal mortality decreased?

The World Bank article Progress in reducing maternal mortality has stagnated and we are not on track to achieve the SDG target: new UN report by Emi Suzuki, Charles Kouame, and Samuel Mills (2/22/2023) provides an update on maternal mortality. The key summary:

Globally, the MMR dropped by 34% between 2000 and 2020, and maternal deaths either increased or stagnated in most regions between 2016 and 2020.

There are some issues here as the graph in the article is interactive but information can only be found for the years shown and not 2016. So why go from 2016 to 2020 and not from 2015 to 2020? A definition of stagnated would be helpful too. Based on the regions in the graph one could also simply say the world overall decreased with only one region really increasing (Latin America and the Caribbean). The good news is that there has been some real progress in the last 20 years. On the other hand, overall progress has slowed. This shouldn’t be surprising as early intervention likely have a bigger impact.

The article has a pie chart of the number of the deaths by region which is questionable as one really should normalize by population, as they do in the graph copied here. This is a good article for discussion in a QL course.


About Thomas J. Pfaff

Thomas J. Pfaff is a Professor of Mathematics at Ithaca College. He created this website because he believes that sustainability, ranging from climate change to social justice, should be included in all courses whenever possible.

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