The state of the world on Mother's Day

Hurricane Ike

Save the Children’s eleventh annual Mothers’ Index compares the well-being of mothers and children in 160 countries.

Norway, Australia, Iceland and Sweden top the rankings this year. The top 10 countries attain very high scores for mothers’ and children’s health, educational and economic status. Afghanistan ranks last among the surveyed countries. Seven from 10 bottom-ranked countries are from sub-Saharan Africa. The United States places 28th.

Conditions for mothers and their children in the bottom 10 countries are grim. On average, 1 in 23 mothers will die from pregnancy-related causes. One child in 6 dies before his or her fifth birthday, and 1 child in 3 suffers from malnutrition. Nearly 50 percent of the population lack access to safe water and only 4 girls for every 5 boys are enrolled in primary school.

The gap in availability of maternal and child health services is especially dramatic when comparing Norway and Afghanistan. Skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth in Norway, while only 14 percent of births are attended in Afghanistan.
A typical Norwegian woman has more than 18 years of formal education and will live to be 83 years old. Eighty-two percent are using some modern method of contraception, and only 1 in 132 will lose a child before his or her fifth birthday.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, in Afghanistan, a typical woman has just over 4 years of education and will live to be only 44. Sixteen percent of women are using modern contraception, and more than 1 child in 4 dies before his or her fifth birthday. At this rate, every mother in Afghanistan is likely to suffer the loss of a child.

On the children’s well-being portion of the Mothers’ Index, Sweden finishes first and Afghanistan is last out of 166 countries. While nearly every Swedish child – girl and boy alike – enjoys good health and education, children in Afghanistan face a 1 in 4 risk of dying before age 5. Thirty-nine percent of Afghan children are malnourished and 78 percent lack access to safe water. Only 2 girls for every 3 boys are enrolled in primary school. (Full report)

Picture courtesy Logan Abassi(MINUSTAH)


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