Worldwide, hundreds of thousands of women die in childbirth or pregnancy each year. A woman dies every two minutes — most often a preventable death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 700 women die every year of pregnancy complications in the United States alone.

Although there has been a steady decrease in pregnancy-related deaths from 2000 to 2020, some regions are not seeing improvements, while other lower-income regions are now seeing an increase in deaths.

The number of maternal deaths has a strong correlation with the income of the pregnant woman’s country. Lower-income countries have a significantly higher maternal mortality ratio than upper-income countries. This is because many countries cannot afford proper health care or medicine if something were to go wrong during the pregnancy.

The World Health Organization reported that, “The (maternal mortality ratio) in low-income countries in 2020 was 430 per 100,000 live births versus 12 per 100,000 live births in high-income countries.”

The report said the deaths that fall under the category of the maternal mortality ratio are women during pregnancy, childbirth or up to six weeks after giving birth. It also includes unsafe and illegal abortions.

The WHO tweeted on Thursday that every two minutes a woman dies during pregnancy or childbirth.

Where do deaths occur?

Data collected by The Commonwealth Fund found that the United States has the highest number of death rates for pregnant women of any developed country. The survey asked women if there was a time that costs prevented them from getting proper health care. The survey said, “Half of women of reproductive age in the U.S. reported skipping or delaying needed care because of costs. U.S. survey respondents were significantly more likely to report skipping care than respondents in all other countries. ... America’s outlier status on this measure likely stems from the large number of women who lack health insurance — 10 million — as well as the high copayments, coinsurance and deductibles that many U.S. women enrolled in commercial health plans face when seeking care.”

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As previously noted, the majority of maternal deaths occur in lower-income countries. Women of reproductive age in Sub-Saharan Africa account for 70% of the global maternal deaths. According to WHO, a 15-year-old girl in the region has a 1 in 40 chance of dying from pregnancy-related complications.

Afghanistan has 620 fatalities per 100,000 live births, the highest maternal mortality ratio of deaths reported in Asia. With the Taliban in power again, women are losing more and more rights including proper health care for themselves and their children, medical observers say. Brienne Prusak, a spokesperson for Doctors Without Borders over Afghanistan, told VOA News that “the public health care system in Afghanistan has been underfunded and overburdened for years.” One health care official in the country said the women are so malnourished they are feeding their newborns tea because they can no longer produce milk.

The three main causes for maternal mortality are infection, severe bleeding and pre-eclampsia. In order to prevent these problems from happening it is very important a skilled health care professional attends all stages of the pregnancy if possible, experts said.