The Social Determinants of Maternal Death and Disability

Publication Date: 2012
Author: UNFPA
Publisher: UNFPA

A woman’s chance of dying or becoming disabled during pregnancy and childbirth is closely connected to her social and economic status, the norms and values of her culture, and the geographic remoteness of her home. Generally speaking, the poorer and more marginalized a woman is, the greater her risk of death. In fact, maternal mortality rates reflect disparities between wealthy and poor countries more than any other measure of health. A woman’s lifetime risk of dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is 1 in 39 in Sub-Saharan Africa, as compared to 1 in 4,700 in industrialized countries.The number of maternal deaths is highest in countries where women are least likely to have skilled attendance at delivery, such as a midwife, doctor or other trained health professional. Likewise, within countries, it is the poorest and least educated women who are most vulnerable to maternal death and disability.