6 Improve maternal health

Where we are?

Ethiopia has one of the highest rates of maternal mortality in Africa. Progress on reducing maternal mortality has stalled since 2005 when the country managed to reduce maternal mortality rate (MMR) to 676 per 100,000 births in 2010/11 from 871 in 2000/01. This means that with the MDG target of 267 per 100,000 births by 2015, the country is clearly off-track on goal five.

There are a number of factors behind this dismal performance, namely: delays in seeking skilled emergency obstetric care; delays in reaching the health facility, and delays in receiving a timely intervention after reaching the facility and large proportions of unmet family planning needs among girls in child-bearing ages. For example, although the percentage of women (aged between 15 and 49) using modern contraception increased from 6.3% in 2000 to 18.7% in 2011 and contraceptive use prevalence rate for the same age group increased from 6% in 2000 to 29% 2010/2011 (EDHS, 2011), performance on these indicators is still very low compared to many African countries.

In addition, the percentage of deliveries attended by skilled birth attendants was only 20.4% in 2011/12, much lower than skilled delivery of 74% and 44% respectively for urban and rural communities in the Southern and Eastern African region. The UN Country Team is working with the Government of Ethiopia to apply the MDGs Acceleration Framework (MAF) and develop an action plan for accelerating progress on maternal health.

Targets for MDG 5
  1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
    • Most maternal deaths could be avoided
    • Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care
    • The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed
  2. Achieve universal access to reproductive health & inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health
    • More women are receiving antenatal care
    • Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking
    • Only one in three rural women in developing regions receive the recommended care during pregnancy
    • Progress has stalled in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies, putting more young mothers at risk
    • Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates
    • Progress in expanding the use of contraceptives by women has slowed & use of contraception is lowest among the poorest women and those with no education