MDG 5 (Improving maternal health – by cutting maternal mortality by three-quarters by 2015 and guaranteeing universal access to reproductive health) is often called the heart of the MDGs, because if it fails, the other MDGs will too. Investment in reproductive health care, education, emergency obstetric services and skilled care at delivery will enable women to deliver; not just the next generation but also paychecks and productivity. In short; women provide everything development advocates work to achieve. The health of mothers is inseparable from the health of newborns, to the point that the World Health Organization now talks in terms of "maternal-newborn health."
Links to factsheets
More than 1 million children are left motherless and vulnerable every year. An infant whose mother dies within the first 6 weeks of life is more likely to die before the age of two than an infant whose mother survives. Girl children are often pulled from school and required to fill their lost mother's roles.
Maternal mortality could be cut by nearly three-quarters by improving women's access to comprehensive reproductive health services, including family planning and strategies to prevent or manage abortion-related complications, within the broader context of efforts to promote human rights, poverty reduction and gender equality.8
An estimated 200 million women want to delay or avoid pregnancy but don't use effective family planning. The demand is expected to rise 40 percent by 2025.
Care by skilled nurses, midwives or doctors during pregnancy and childbirth, including emergency services, and care for mothers and newborns is essential. Access to a skilled birth attendant during delivery in has increased from 53% to 63% during the period of 1990 to 2008.
About 35 percent of pregnant women in developing countries have no access to or contact with health personnel before delivery, and only 63 percent give birth with a skilled attendant present.9
Education can inform women about their bodies and give them options for life beyond childbearing. Of 137 million illiterate young people in the world, 63 percent are female.