Skip to main content

Every day, 830 women around the world die from complications related to pregnancy or childbirth. Most of these deaths are due to severe post-partum bleeding, infections, high blood pressure during pregnancy, delivery complications, and unsafe abortions. The vast majority of these deaths could have been prevented with timely interventions.

While most (99 percent) of the more than 300,000 maternal deaths each year occur in developing countries, maternal death is a global reality.1 Some countries, including the United States, are currently experiencing a rise in maternal mortality rates (MMR). Sustainable Development Goal 3 set a 2030 deadline to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio from its 2015 level of 216 deaths per 100,000 live births to fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. To meet this objective, ending preventable maternal mortality (EPMM) must remain a vital goal for the global community.

The Maternal Health Initiative and the United Nations Population Fund hosted two private meetings with maternal health and family planning experts at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington, D.C. In collaboration, the following six steps to help end preventable maternal mortality were developed:

  1. Take a rights-based approach to women’s health
  2. Follow a holistic life-cycle approach to woman-centered care, from adolescents and youth, to spacing and limiting births, to reproductive health issues ranging from STI and HIV prevention to cervical cancer and other diseases of the reproductive tract
  3. Pay attention to emerging issues: comprehensive sexuality education and non-communicable diseases
  4. Acknowledge the impact of unsafe abortions and promote quality post-abortion care
  5. Ensure accountability at all levels and focus on data collection, disaggregation, and reporting
  6. Do not silo investments in women and newborns


Maternal Health Initiative

Life and health are the most basic human rights, yet disparities between and within countries continue to grow. No single solution or institution can address the variety of health concerns the world faces. By leveraging, building on, and coordinating the Wilson Center’s strong regional and cross-cutting programming, the Maternal Health Initiative (MHI) promotes dialogue and understanding among practitioners, scholars, community leaders, and policymakers.  Read more

Global Risk and Resilience Program

The Global Risk and Resilience Program (GRRP) seeks to support the development of inclusive, resilient networks in local communities facing global change. By providing a platform for sharing lessons, mapping knowledge, and linking people and ideas, GRRP and its affiliated programs empower policymakers, practitioners, and community members to participate in the global dialogue on sustainability and resilience. Empowered communities are better able to develop flexible, diverse, and equitable networks of resilience that can improve their health, preserve their natural resources, and build peace between people in a changing world.  Read more