By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Ministry of Health has revealed that there was a drop of 21 percent in maternal deaths in 2011. The government has credited the improvement to a new program – the Rede Cegonha (Stork Network) – which started in 2011 and has invested R$2.5 billion (US$1.25 billion) into the health system, aimed at helping pregnant women.
For the period January–September 2010, some 1,317 deaths were reported, but the same period in 2011 saw 279 fewer fatalities.
The figures take into account deaths from complication during pregnancy, childbirth or up to 42 days following the termination of the pregnancy, however it might end.
“The sharp decline in maternal mortality reflects the better quality of prenatal care, and our efforts are starting to produce results. This achievement is very important for the country, but the challenge still exists,” Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said.
According to the Ministry of Health, maternal mortality has halved over the past two decades. In 1990, 141 cases per 100,000 resulted in the death of the mother, but by 2010, 68 deaths were recorded.
Still this is still considerably higher than the United Nations’ millennium goal of 35 deaths per 100,000 by 2015. The Stork Network serves just over a third of pregnant women in the free National Health System (SUS), increasing access to prenatal consultations.
In December 2011, Brazil became the world’s sixth largest economy, ahead of the United Kingdom. However the government acknowledges that it may take ten to twenty years for Brazilian citizens to have a standard of living similar to Europe.
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