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Wednesday, 15 May 2013

CBS News

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CBS News/ May 12, 2013, 9:14 AM

Where not to be a mother in 2013

Maasai mothers hold their babies as they queue to vote in Kenya, on March 4, 2013, during the nationwide elections.
Maasai mothers hold their babies as they queue to vote in Kenya, on March 4, 2013, during the nationwide elections. / Getty Images

The most dangerous day to be a baby is its first day on Earth, regardless of where that baby is born. As many as one million one-day-olds die annually, according to a report from the non-profit organization Save the Children. Additionally, as many as three million newborns die in their first month of life every year, almost all of them from preventable and curable ailments.

The annual State of the World's Mothers report highlights the critical importance of a mother's health and nutrition in preventing such disasters.

The report also highlights a sadly familiar roster of countries where moms are most vulnerable, as all of the worst places to be a mother are in sub-Saharan Africa. The bottom 10 in descending order on Save the Children's list are: Ivory Coast, Chad, Nigeria, Gambia, Central African Republic, Niger, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia and DR Congo. The report ranks 176 countries on five indicators: risk of dying during pregnancy or childbirth, under-5 mortality rate, education, income and female political representation.

South Asia still has the highest number of newborn deaths annually, with as many as 423,000 dying every year on the day they are born.

Some of the reasons for the poor country rankings include women getting pregnant at younger ages, undernutrition and poor medical care. Sub-Saharan Africa has 11 doctors, nurses and midwives per 10,000 people -- less than half the 23 considered necessary to deliver essential care, according to The Economist.

There is some hope in the worst corners of the world for mothers though, as some governments take notice of the problem. The report highlighted Malawi, which has reduced its newborn fatality rate by 44 percent since 1990.

With 98 percent of newborn deaths occurring in the developing world, the top 10 countries to be a mother are mostly in Europe and largely very aggressive in delivering equal opportunity and state-funded care to mothers. The top 10 in descending order are: Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Netherlands, Denmark, Spain, Belgium, Germany and Australia. The United States was ranked 30th.

While there is an interest to improve the situation for mothers globally, Save the Children CEO Carolyn Miles writes in the report that "what is lacking is the political will and the funding to deliver these solutions to all the mothers and babies who need them."

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