You would have thought that in this day and age that health reporting would quite efficient. But even the World Health Organization is having difficulty in painting a precise picture of the state of maternal health, and more specifically maternal deaths in Europe. They say that they are facing challenges “in light of weak health information systems in some countries, underreporting, and differences between official data and estimates made by international agencies.”
But they do quote some stark realities:
- The average maternal mortality ratio for the WHO European Region official figures decreased from an estimated 35 deaths per 100 000 live births in 1990 to 16 in 2008. Nevertheless, the highest national maternal mortality rate in the Region is now estimated to be an appalling 40 times the lowest.
- Specific reports prove that correct reporting of maternal deaths is still not in place in several countries.
- Perinatal mortality is defined by WHO as weight specific (≥ 1000 g) fetal deaths and early neonatal deaths per 1000 births (live births + stillbirths); official figures show a decrease from 13 in 1990, to 8 in 2005 with significant differences among and within countries.
- Several countries in the European Region still do not report following this definition, therefore official data may underestimate the full scale of the problem.
Source: World Health Organization Regional Office for Europe