State of the World’s Mothers Report

By Chelsea Bailey | May 7, 2014

Sub-Saharan Africa is still the most dangerous region for women to give birth. Learn how EGPAF is working to improve health outcomes for moms and their babies.

Nigel Barker/Tanzania

Where are the best and worst places to be mother? In its annual “State of the World’s Mothers” report, Save the Children examines motherhood around the world and issues key recommendations to ensure a bright and healthy future for mothers and babies everywhere.

Each year, the report ranks the best and worst places to be a mother according to factors such as maternal health, educational status, and a child’s wellbeing to develop the Mother’s Index.  This year Finland, Sweden, and the Netherlands maintained their rankings as safest places to be a mom. The ten lowest-ranked countries were all in sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the report, babies born in sub-Saharan Africa are seven times more likely to die on their first day of life than babies born in industrialized countries.  While Malawi and Tanzania have made great strides in reducing maternal and infant mortality rates, compounding factors such as limited resources, a lack of access to health care, civil conflict, and a severe shortage of health workers make sub-Saharan Africa the most dangerous region for women to give birth.

What’s more, these factors, when combined with diseases such as HIV, increase the chance that a mother will go into preterm labor – endangering her life and the life of her child. A woman living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa is six to eight times more likely to die than an HIV-negative woman.

The report also found that increasing a woman’s access to comprehensive health care, including services to prevent mothers from transmitting HIV to their babies, is key to reducing risks associated with childbirth and maternal and infant mortality.

Ronnie Lovich, senior advisor for maternal and newborn health at the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation (EGPAF), says services for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV can be a gateway to improving maternal and child health outcomes, as well as HIV-free survival.

“We can create an AIDS-free future, but first we have to prioritize the health of mothers and their babies and ensure that there is enough political energy devoted to channeling resources into those goals,” Lovich said.

“EGPAF has reached more than 19 million women with PMTCT services. That also means that we’ve initiated each of those women into a continuum of care, ensuring a healthy future for both mom and baby.”

At EGPAF, we know that in order to keep children healthy and HIV-free we must start with the health of their mothers. We work closely with local governments in 15 countries around the world to support strong health systems and ensure that no child has to born with AIDS.

This Mother’s Day join our #MOMentos campaign and fight to end AIDS in children. Share your favorite memory of your mother and help spread the word about ending AIDS in children.