Maternal mortality declined by 38 per cent between 2000 and 2017

Maternal mortality refers to deaths due to complications from pregnancy or childbirth. From 2000 to 2017, the global maternal mortality ratio declined by 38 per cent – from 342 deaths to 211 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to UN inter-agency estimates. This translates into an average annual rate of reduction of 2.9 per cent. While substantive, this is less than half the 6.4 per cent annual rate needed to achieve the Sustainable Development global goal of 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

There has been significant progress since 2000. Between 2000 and 2017, South Asia achieved the greatest overall percentage reduction in MMR, with a reduction of 59 per cent (from 395 to 163 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births). Sub-Saharan Africa achieved a substantial reduction of 39 per cent of maternal mortality during this period.


Maternal mortality

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  • Trends in estimates of maternal mortality ratio (MMR), maternal deaths and lifetime risk of maternal death, 2000-2017

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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 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.