Global child and maternal deaths have fallen sharply in recent decades, but new UN statistics released Thursday show unequal progress, with more than five childbirths a minute ending in tragedy.
Two reports by several United Nations' agencies showed clear global progress in reducing the number of pregnant women or new mothers and young children who die each year, pointing to improved access to affordable, quality health services.
"In countries that provide everyone with safe, affordable, high-quality health services, women and babies survive and thrive," World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.
Since the turn of the century, the number of deaths among children under the age of five has been cut almost in half to some 5.3 million worldwide last year.
Almost half of those deaths occurred during the first month of life, meaning that around 7,000 newborns still died every single day last year.
At the same time, the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth dropped by more than a third to around 295,000 in 2017, compared to 451,000 in 2000.
While this marks a huge improvement, some 800 women still died each day from complications in pregnancy and childbirth in 2017, the UN numbers showed.
In all, the statistics reveal that an estimated 2.8 million women and newborns die every year, mostly from preventable causes.
"Around the world, birth is a joyous occasion. Yet, every 11 seconds, a birth is a family tragedy," head of the UN children's agency Henrietta Fore said in the statement.
"A skilled pair of hands to help mothers and newborns around the time of birth, along with clean water, adequate nutrition, basic medicines and vaccines, can make the difference between life and death," she insisted.
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