Academic Publication

Maternal Mortality in Developing Countries: A Threat to the Millennium Development Goal

Abdullahi Mohammed Isyaku
Journal of Nursing and Health Science
Publication Year:
July 07, 2020
  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-Being


Maternal mortality has for long been a serious problem that is engulfing the lives of many childbearing (pregnant) women mostly in the developing countries as a result of many contributory factors. Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 5 focuses on improving maternal health, with target 6 aiming to reduce the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by three quarters by 2015 through some strategic plan of actions but the trend is not welcoming. This paper discussed maternal mortality concepts, factors of maternal mortality in the developing countries and the way forward for the reduction of maternal mortality in developing countries. The paper suggested among others that pregnant mothers in the developing nations should be encourage to attend antenatal clinics for routine check-ups, so that risk factors of pregnancy related infections will be diagnosed; be detected early and treated promptly and also health education and promotion programme should be intensified in developing countries in order to create awareness, so that people can adopt positive health behaviour by heeding to good treatment seeking behaviour pattern when at risk.



This study further determines the concept of maternal mortality, factors of maternal mortality, and reduction of maternal mortality.



Maternal mortality continues to be a leading public health problem in the developing world, and particularly in the African Region. The trend in maternal mortality in the Region has worsened from 870 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 1000 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2001 (Andrew, 2004). That is why Millennium Development Goal (MDG) was launched and MDG 5 focuses on improving maternal health, with target 6 aiming to reduce the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by three quarters by 2015. There was a great effort to reduce maternal mortality globally through different strategies (United Nation, 2008).

This prevailing contemporary reproductive health problem that is affecting the health of the women worldwide maternal mortality (MM) has continued to be a major health problem particularly in developing countries that is swallowing many lives every minute. The progress of the MDG programme in many countries across the world to minimize the ratio has been very slow and questionable. Worldwide, more than half a million women die every year as a result of complications arising from pregnancy and childbirth. However, World Health Organisation (2007) revealed that nearly 600,000 women die each year as a result of pregnancy complications and childbirth, most of these deaths can be prevented with attainable resources and skills. They further stated that, the great majority of maternal mortality about (99%) occurs in developing countries, of which 65% was in sub Sahara Africa. One of the cardinal objectives of MDGs was to mitigate the rising profile of maternal mortality rate by 75% by 2015. Deaths from common medical causes of maternal mortality such as haemorrhage, toxaemia, infection, obstructed labour and unsafe abortion can be prevented if properly and effectively managed (Betty, 2004).

Even the United State failed to rank in the top of countries with the lowest rates of maternal mortality and actually slid farther behind other developed countries, ranking closer to Russia and countries of Central America, South America and North Africa. These deaths were almost equally divided between Africa (251,000) and Asia (253,000), with about 4% (22,000) occurring in Latin America and the Caribbean and less than 1% (2500) in the developed countries. The average risk of dying from pregnancy related causes in Africa is about 1 in 20, compared to 1 in 2000 in developed countries. Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates and is only second to India in the world (WHO, 2007).


Results & Next Steps:

Many factors such as poverty, illiteracy, drug abuse, overconfidence, inadequate clinical staff, irregular antenatal visits, socio-cultural factors all affects maternal mortality. This study emphasizes that in the future, pregnant mothers should attend antenatal clinics for routine check-ups so that they are better educated on healthier behavior that prevents maternal and child mortality. However, government officials should ensure that these resources are understood by the population and easily accessible.


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