Maternal mortality fell by almost half between 1990 and 2015

*CEE/CIS: Central and Eastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States

Source: World Health Organization, UNICEF, United Nations Population Fund and The World Bank, Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015, WHO, Geneva, 2015.

Maternal mortality refers to deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. From 1990 to 2015, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 44 per cent – from 385 deaths to 216 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UN inter-agency estimates. This translates into an average annual rate of reduction of 2.3 per cent. While impressive, this is less than half the 5.5 per cent annual rate needed to achieve the three-quarters reduction in maternal mortality targeted for 2015 in Millennium Development Goal 5.

Every region has advanced, although levels of maternal mortality remain unacceptably high in sub-Saharan Africa. Almost all maternal deaths can be prevented, as evidenced by the huge disparities found between the richest and poorest countries. The lifetime risk of maternal death in high-income countries is 1 in 3,300, compared to 1 in 41 in low-income.


Maternal mortality

  • Trends in estimates of maternal mortality ratio (maternal deaths per 100,000 live births) 1990-2015

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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 2015 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 2015 global MMR is 216 (UI 207 to 249) This means: • The point-estimate is 216 and the 80% uncertainty interval ranges 207 to 249. • There is a 50% chance that the true 2015 global MMR lies above 216, and a 50% chance that the true value lies below 216. • There is an 80% chance that the true 2015 global MMR lies between 207 and 249. • There is still a 10% chance that the true 2015 global MMR lies above 249, and a 10% chance that the true value lies below 207. Other accurate interpretations include: • We are 90% certain that the true 2015 global MMR is at least 207. • We are 90% certain that the true 2015 global MMR is 249 or less.

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.

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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 1990-2015. For further information visit, Trends in maternal mortality: 1990–2015.