The maternal mortality ratio is one of the indicators used to monitor the Millennium Development, and one of the most challenging to measure. Accurately classifying a death as maternal requires information on the timing and cause of death as well as pregnancy status of the woman who died. In most countries, this information is very difficult to collect. Consequently, there is widespread underreporting and misclassification of maternal deaths. In addition, maternal mortality is a relatively rare event further complicating its measurement.
To help compensate for these issues, the Maternal Mortality Estimation Inter-Agency Group has developed sophisticated estimation techniques. MME Info helps explain the methods used and make all data available in a transparent manner.
Tessa Wardlaw, Associate Director of the Division of Policy and Strategy and Chief, Statistics and Monitoring Section at UNICEF stated: “Estimating maternal mortality is extremely challenging. The new MME Info site is important because it helps explain the estimation process and provides full transparency”.
Data for the latest round of country-level estimates of maternal mortality for the period 1990-2010 is available through the site, allowing users to view data for countries of interest. Profiles include data on maternal mortality ratios, maternal deaths, life time risk of maternal deaths. In addition, country profiles include contextual factor indicators like GDP per capita, general fertility rate, and births attended by skilled health personnel, which were used in the model for estimating maternal mortality for most of the countries. Each country profile, which can be downloaded into an Excel document, contains five graphs as well as the underlying data by country.
Users can also observe the evolution of MMR on the regional level, noticing for instance that while the global MMR in 2010 is 210 maternal deaths, sub-Saharan Africa still had an average of 500 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
With only 1,000 days left to reach the Millennium Development Goals for which one of the targets is to reduce the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters, it is critical for development actors to inform themselves on the current state of maternal health as a way to achieve better understanding. MME Info provides a solution for health officials and policy-makers to support their advocacy and planning efforts.
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