Building a Future for Women and Children: The 2012 Report
In the five minutes it takes to read this page, 3 women will lose their lives to complications of pregnancy or childbirth, 60 others will suffer debilitating injuries and infection due to the same causes, and 70 children will die, nearly 30 of them newborn babies. Countless other babies will be stillborn or suffer potentially long-term consequences of being born prematurely. The vast majority of these deaths and disabilities are preventable.
During these same five minutes, however, countless lives will be saved. A baby, fed only breastmilk for her first six months of life, will avoid diarrhoeal disease. Another will survive pneumonia because he received appropriate antibiotics. A child will avoid malaria because she sleeps under an insecticide-treated net. Another, exposed to measles, will not succumb to disease because he has been vaccinated. An adolescent, not yet physically, emotionally or financially ready to have a child, will receive family planning services, including counselling to prevent unintended pregnancy; a new mother will choose to delay her next pregnancy until a safer time. A pregnant, HIV-positive woman will receive treatment that protects her health and that of her baby. An expectant mother, at a routine antenatal care visit, will receive treatment for the high blood pressure that can threaten her life; another will give birth at a health facility where skilled birth attendants save her life when she experiences postpartum bleeding; yet another will receive antenatal corticosteroids to develop her baby’s lungs to ensure a better chance of survival. And a newborn and her mother will receive lifesaving treatment for infection within the first week after birth.
The countdown to the 2015 Millennium Development Goal deadline is a race against time, a race to add to the list of lives saved and subtract from the tally of maternal, newborn and child deaths. Each life saved creates infinite possibilities—for a healthy, productive individual; for a stable, thriving family; for a stronger community and nation; for a better world. And interventions that improve maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition contribute to a future generation of healthier, smarter and more productive adults.
This report highlights country progress—and obstacles to progress—towards achieving Millennium Development Goals 4 and 5 to reduce child mortality and improve maternal health. Countdown to 2015 focuses on evidence-based solutions—health interventions proven to save lives—and on the health systems, policies, financing and broader contextual factors that affect the equitable delivery of these interventions to women and children. Countdown focuses on data, because building a better future and protecting the basic human right to life require understanding where things stand right now and how they got to where they are today. And Countdown focuses on what happens in countries—where investments are made or not made, policies are implemented or not implemented, health services are received or not received and women and children live or die.