Global Statistics

In the 20th century, pregnancy and childbirth killed more than tuberculosis, suicide, traffic accidents and AIDS, combined.


Of all pregnancies anywhere, 15 percent will have a potentially fatal complication. In the developing world, having a baby will be the riskiest thing a woman will do. Yet in most cases, mothers there deliver without any skilled attendant. Often, only their mother-in-law is present. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, a woman has a lifetime risk of 1 in 39 of dying from pregnancy related complications.

Globally, an estimated 287,000 maternal deaths occurred in 2010. Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia accounted for 85 percent of the global burden (245,000 maternal deaths) in 2010. In Uganda alone, there were 4,700 maternal deaths that year.*

One in four women who die during childbirth simply bleed to death. This can often be prevented by a medication that costs less than 99 cents.

“I don’t believe that we will make the progress on HIV/Aids
without addressing maternal mortality. We will not make the progress we want on malaria without addressing maternal mortality. We will not make progress on getting more children to school without reducing maternal mortality. When a mother survives, a lot survives with her.”
~Sarah Brown, safe motherhood advocate, Wife of former Prime Minister of the U.K.




The death of one mother often leaves a family of orphans. These children are more vulnerable to sickness and death. In addition, for every woman who dies in childbirth, about 20 women suffer injury, infection or disease – approximately 10 million women each year. Some develop a fistula, a tear in the bladder or rectum or birth canal that leaves them incontinent: they are women who will be thrown out of their families and villages, like lepers.

*All statistics from the “Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 – 2010” report, UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, World Bank.


Mother With Child

“Half a million women die each year around the world in pregnancy. It’s not biology that kills them so much as neglect.”
~Nicholas D. Kristof,
New York Times journalist