MDG 5, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND MATERNAL HEALTH IN AFRICA
changes in the socioeconomic realm. Although progress in one genre of
human rights translates to improvement in the other genres, predicting when
the improvement will occur is often impossible. So the socioeconomic
rights of women, including maternal health in Africa, continue to flounder.
The tragic account at the beginning of this section, although pertaining to
Chad, might as well have been describing the peril of childbirth in the vast
majority of countries in Africa. Especially in the developing world, women
continue to die at an alarming rate from pregnancy- and childbirth-related
complications. In 2010, the global MMR hovered around 287,000, 32 more
than half (fifty-six percent) of them in sub-Saharan Africa. 33 At 480 deaths
per 100,000 live births, the average MMR in Africa dwarfs that of other
regions. 34 The rate in the next underperforming region (East
Mediterranean) is nearly one-half of Africa’s, whereas the European and
Western Pacific regions suffered twenty and forty-nine maternal deaths
respectively. 35 The lifetime risk of maternal death in Africa is astronomical,
one in sixteen, compared to one in 2800 in affluent countries. 36 The
probability of dying from treatable or preventable complications resulting
from pregnancy or childbirth is also high in the region, one in twenty-two
compared to one in 7,300 in advanced nations. 37
A combination of several factors, particularly poverty, civil strife, and
irresponsible governance, frustrate plans to bring needed changes to the
region. However, a reduction in maternal mortality rates is expected as
Sirleaf. See Joyce Mulama, EAST AFRICA: Increasing Women’s Participation in
Government (Jan. 31, 2009), http://www.ipsnews.net/2009/01/east-africa-increasing-
women39s-participation-in-government/. For instances of other gains, see U.N., THE
MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT 2009 23 (2009), available at http://www.un.org/
millenniumgoals/pdf/MDG_Report_2009_ENG.pdf; see also U.N., THE MILLENNIUM
DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT 2010 25 (2010), available at http://www.un.org/millennium
(reporting that in the parliamentary elections and renewals in sub-Saharan Africa in 2009,
women won twenty-nine per cent of the renewed seats, bringing the regional average up to
eighteen percent. In the same period, women in South Africa won forty-four percent of the
seats in the lower-house election, placing the country third after Rwanda and Sweden in
terms of global ranking).
32. MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT 2009, supra note 30, at 26; see also
UNICEF, THE STATE OF WORLD’S CHILDREN 2009: MATERNAL AND NEWBORN HEALTH 4
33. MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMEN T GOALS REPORT 2012, supra note 28, at 31.
34. WHO, WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS 2013 80 (2013).
36. WORLD HEALTH REPORT 2005, supra note 10, at 11.
37. U.N., THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS REPORT 2008 24 (2008),