Maternal mortality

February 2023

Maternal mortality declined by 34 per cent between 2000 and 2020

Maternal mortality refers to deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. From 2000 to 2020, the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) declined by 34 per cent – from 339 deaths to 223 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UN inter-agency estimates. This translates into an average annual rate of reduction of 2.1 per cent. While substantive, this is about one third of the 6.4 per cent annual rate needed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.

Though there has been significant progress in reducing global MMR between 2000 and 2015, the numbers have been stagnant when averaging rates of reduction between 2016 and 2022. In most regions, the rate of reduction stalled and in Western Europe and North America, and Latin America and the Caribbean, MMR increased over the 2016-2022 period.

Progress, however, is possible, but concerted action will be needed. A small number of countries have achieved an annual rate of reduction of 15 per cent or more in the last 20 years, bringing them closer or past their target reduction rates to meet global goals. UNICEF, World Health Organization and other partnering agencies are working closely with country governments and other partners to accelerate progress in maternal and newborn health. Through joint targets developed by the Every Newborn Action Plan (ENAP) and Ending Preventable Maternal Mortality (EPMM) groups, new strategies are being developed to ensure that every pregnant girl and woman receives essential interventions, including four or more antenatal care visits, childbirth assisted by a skilled birth attendant, and that both she and her newborn receive postnatal care within two days of birth. By increasing attention and investment, working collaboratively with governments, communities, and families, and focusing on the areas of greatest need, significant improvements can be seen in maternal health coverage and equity.


Notes on the data


Sustainable Development Goal Target Indicator
Goal 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Target 3.1: By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births 3.1.1 Maternal mortality ratio


Definition: The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) is defined as the number of maternal deaths during a given time period per 100,000 live births during the same time period. It depicts the risk of maternal death relative to the number of live births and essentially captures the risk of death in a single pregnancy or a single live birth. Maternal deaths: The annual number of female deaths from any cause related to or aggravated by pregnancy or its management (excluding accidental or incidental causes) during pregnancy and childbirth or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, expressed per 100,000 live births, for a specified time period.

Rationale: All maternal mortality indicators derived from the 2019 estimation round include a point-estimate and an 80% uncertainty interval (UI). For those indicators where only point-estimates are reported in the text or tables, UIs can be obtained from supplementary material online. Both point-estimates and 80% UIs should be taken into account when assessing estimates. For example: The estimated 2017 global MMR is 211 (UI 199 to 243) This means: The point-estimate is 211 and the 80% uncertainty interval ranges 199 to 243.

The amount of data available for estimating an indicator and the quality of that data determine the width of an indicator’s UI. As data availability and quality improve, the certainty increases that an indicator’s true value lies close to the point-estimate.

For more information on the metadata please visit SDG metadata.

Maternal mortality country profiles

The profiles below detail the new round of estimates developed by WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division for the years 2000-2017. For further information visit, Trends in maternal mortality: 2000–2017.