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UN News Centre, August 14, 2007

UN-backed conference to tackle needless deaths during pregnancy and childbirth

With a woman somewhere in the world needlessly dying every minute during pregnancy and childbirth, the United Nations is participating in a landmark conference in October to bring an end to millions of maternal deaths globally.

More than 2,000 participants – delegates from over 75 countries including senior government officials and cabinet ministers, heads of UN agencies and other organizations, health professionals, economists and reproductive health advocates – will convene at the Women Deliver conference to be held from 18-20 October.

The event “will call attention to a tragedy that is not often registered, and will push all concerned to take action,” said Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, Executive Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA).

Ten million women and girls die each generation during their pregnancies or childbirth, and 4 million newborn babies die yearly. These tragic deaths – which contribute to poverty worldwide – can easily be prevented with effective and low-cost investments.

Women in poor countries are disproportionately affected, with one in six women of reproductive age dying from pregnancy-related causes in Afghanistan compared to one in 2,500 in the United States and one in 29,800 in Sweden, according to UN statistics from 2000.

This year marks the midpoint of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight targets to slash a host of ills by 2015, one of which is the goal of bolstering maternal health.

Organizers include UNFPA, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Health Organization (WHO), the World Bank, several government agencies, and dozens of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

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