MDG 5, HUMAN RIGHTS, AND MATERNAL HEALTH IN AFRICA
transparency and accountability, especially in public institutions; provision
of health and ancillary services, lobbying as well as research,
documentation and publication, CSOs could be productive contributors to
promoting maternal health throughout the region.
The precise application of these interventions will vary depending on the
specific circumstances of each country but, overall, the interventions would
need to be rapidly scaled up as the region stands quite afar from reducing its
share of maternal deaths as required by MDG 5. This is a matter of utmost
urgency. The MMR in sub-Saharan Africa in 1990, as shown in an
authoritative re-estimation of global maternal deaths, was 921 deaths per
100,000 live births, falling slightly to 905 in 2005 (a decline of 1. 8 percent
in fifteen years).272 This marks the region as the only one that failed to
achieve a substantial reduction in its share of maternal deaths within the
relevant period.273 In contrast, the rest of the world posted an annual
average decline of 2. 5 percent.274 This harbors trouble for Africa.
Achieving a three quarters reduction in the region’s 1990 MMR by 2015
would mean reducing the number of pregnancy - and childbirth-related
mortalities to 691 per 100,000 live births, which translates to a MMR of
230 by the stipulated date. But with barely two years left in the MDGs’
calendar, it seems quite unrealistic to expect the region to achieve this feat,
given the numerous difficulties enumerated in Part III of this paper, none of
which is on the throes of being expurgated. WHO’s latest report puts the
current MMR in Africa at 480 deaths per 100,000 live births,275 more than
double the figure needed to achieve the 2015 target.276 As it is, therefore, a
substantial advancement toward the Goal might be the most realistic
expectation at this time, assuming rapid deployment of resources toward the
interventions identified above.
272. Kenneth Hill et al., Estimates of Maternal Mortality Worldwide Between 1990 and
2005: An Assessment of Available Data, 370 LANCET 1311, 1317 (2007).
273. Id.; WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS 2013, supra note 34, at 80. Relying on recent
figures released by WHO yields an identical result –Africa still remains off-target.
According to the latest World Health Statistics, the MMR in Africa was 820 in 1990 but
declined to 480 in 2010.
274. Hill et al., supra note 272, at 1318.
275. Meaning a one-third decline in two decades, since the figure (on Hill’s account) in
1990 was 921 deaths. Id. at 1317.
276. WORLD HEALTH STATISTICS 2013, supra note 34, at 80.