I’m Gwen Outen with the VOA Special English Health Report.
Thursday, April seventh, is World Health Day. The World Health Organization recognizes World Health Day each year to increase interest about a health issue it considers of special concern. This year, World Health Day examines the health of mothers and children in developing countries.
The WHO says more than half a million women die every year from problems related to pregnancy and childbirth. Millions more women survive, but suffer disabilities. About eleven million children also die each year, many within the first month of life.
A million or more children are left without mothers each year as a result of women dying from pregnancy-related problems. Experts say these children are three to ten times more likely to die within two years than children who live with both parents.
Most deaths of mothers happen among poor people in developing countries. The highest maternal death rates around the world are in southern African countries, followed by central Asia. Women are most at risk during childbirth in Sierra Leone and Afghanistan. Experts say one out of six women in those countries will die from problems related to pregnancy and childbirth.
WHO officials say most of the deaths result from lack of skilled care during pregnancy and childbirth and lack of clean conditions. Many babies would survive with safe birthing methods, good nutrition, vaccines against disease and good care at home.
The disease AIDS is also an increasing threat to both mothers and their children. Experts say almost half of all adults living with AIDS and the virus that causes it are women. And there is increased risk that an infected mother will pass the virus to her baby. Experts say many deaths could be prevented by using medicines during childbirth that prevent mothers from passing the AIDS virus to their babies.
The WHO says governments and the international community need to make the health of women and children a more important issue. Last year, nations approved Millennium Development Goals for the year two thousand fifteen. They agreed to work to reduce the number of women dying in childbirth by three-quarters. They also promised to reduce the number of child deaths by two-thirds.
This VOA Special English Health Report was written by Cynthia Kirk. This is Gwen Outen.