Only nine of 137 developing countries are expected to achieve ambitious targets to improve the health of women and children, according to an analysis of progress on the fourth and fifth Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) published in The Lancet.
The targets set by world leaders in 2000 aim to reduce the death rate for children aged under five by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015 (MDG 4), and deaths among pregnant women and new mothers by three-quarters during the same timescale (MDG 5).
An analysis by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington predicts that 31 developing countries will achieve MDG 4 and 13 will achieve MDG 5. Nine countries are expected to achieve both goals: China, Egypt, Iran, Libya, Maldives, Mongolia, Peru, Syria, and Tunisia.
Dr Rafael Lozano, Professor of Global Health at IHME said: “If the world is going to achieve these goals, we need to see immediate, concerted action on the part of governments, donors, and bilateral agencies to move these trends in the right direction. We know that accelerated progress is possible because we are seeing it already.”
In 125 countries, maternal mortality has declined faster since 2000, the year that countries signed the Millennium Declaration, and the progress has been particularly strong in the past five years. Over the same period, in 106 countries, child mortality rates have declined faster between 2000 and 2011 than in the previous decade.
The number of deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth decreased from 409,100 in 1990 to an estimated 273,500 deaths in 2011, and the number of deaths in children under the age of 5 fell from 11.6 million deaths to an estimated 7.2 million over the same period.