Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2015

No. of pages: 100

Publication date: 2015

Author: Dept. of Reproductive Health and Research, WHO


In 2000, the United Nations (UN) Member States pledged to work towards a series of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), including the target of a three-quarters reduction in the 1990 maternal mortality ratio (MMR; maternal deaths per 100 000 live births), to be achieved by 2015. This target (MDG 5A) and that of achieving universal access to reproductive health (MDG 5B) together formed the two targets for MDG 5: Improve maternal health. In the five years counting down to the conclusion of the MDGs, a number of initiatives were established to galvanize efforts towards reducing maternal mortality. These included the UN Secretary-General’s Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health, which mobilized efforts towards achieving MDG 4 (Improve child health) as well as MDG 5, and the high-level Commission on Information and Accountability (COIA), which promoted “global reporting, oversight, and accountability on women’s and children’s health”.

Now, building on the momentum generated by MDG 5, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) establish a transformative new agenda for maternal health towards ending preventable maternal mortality; target 3.1 of SDG 3 is to reduce the global MMR to less than 70 per 100 000 live births by 2030. As part of ongoing efforts, the WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, World Bank Group and the United Nations Population Division updated estimates of maternal mortality for the years 1990, 1995, 2000, 2005 and 2015.