In 2015, an estimated number of 303,000 women died of causes related to pregnancy or childbirth in one year, meaning some 830 women still die every day. Developing countries account for 99% of these deaths. For every woman who dies, 20 or 30 encounter injuries, infections or disabilities caused by pregnancy or childbirth. Major caused of death are severe bleeding, sepsis, eclampsia, obstructed labor and the consequences of unsafe abortions – all causes for which there are highly effective interventions, therefore most of these deaths and injuries are preventable. Skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth can make the difference between life and death for a mother and her newborn. However, mostly in developing countries in 2016, about one in five births take place without the assistance of a skilled birth attendant.
Source: UNFPA, UNICEF 2017
Unintended pregnancies – limited family planning options
As of 2017, 1.6 billion women of reproductive age (15–49) live in developing regions. 214 million women in developing countries want to avoid pregnancy but they are not using a modern method of contraception. Of the estimated 206 million pregnancies in 2017 in developing regions, 43% are unintended.Women with an unmet need for modern contraception account for 84% of all unintended pregnancies in developing regions. Women using no method of contraception account for 74% of unintended pregnancies.If all unmet need for modern contraception were satisfied in developing regions, there would be approximately a three-quarters decline in unintended pregnancies (from the current 89 million to 22 million per year), unplanned births (from 30 million to seven million per year) and induced abortions (from 48 million to 13 million per year).
Source: Guttmacher Institute 2017
Unsafe abortion occurs when a pregnancy is terminated either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment that does not conform to minimal medical standards, or both. Around 22 million unsafe abortions are estimated to take place worldwide each year, almost all in developing countries. Each year between 4.7% – 13.2% of maternal deaths can be attributed to unsafe abortion.Women, including adolescents, with unwanted pregnancies often resort to unsafe abortion when they cannot access safe abortion. Barriers to accessing safe abortion include restrictive laws, poor availability of services, high cost and stigma. When induced abortion is performed by appropriately trained persons using correct techniques it is a safe procedure.
Source: WHO 2017
In 2015, there were 36.7 million people living with HIV. 77% of pregnant women living with HIV had access to antiretroviral medicines to prevent transmission of HIV to their babies. However, data from South Africa reveal that young women are acquiring HIV from adult men—as these young women grow older, they tend to transmit HIV to adult men, and the cycle repeats. Its finding in 2016 suggest that gender inequalities and harmful masculinities underpin this cycle. Lower access to education, lower levels of economic independence and intimate partner violence erode the ability of young women to negotiate safer sex and retain control of their bodies.
Source: UNAIDS 2017
Populations in many regions are still comparatively young. In Africa, children under age 15 account for 41% of the population in 2017 and young persons aged 15 to 24 account for an additional 19%. Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia, which have experienced greater declines in fertility, have smaller percentages of children (25 and 24 %, respectively) but similar percentages of youth (17 and 16 %, respectively). In total, these three regions are home to 1.8 billion children and 1.1 billion young persons in 2017. Providing these generations of children and youth with health care, education, and employment opportunities, including in the poorest countries and groups, will be critical for the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Source: World Population Prospects The 2017 Revision