TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 05/07/13 -- The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is the toughest place in the world to be a mother - and Finland the best - according to Save the Children's State of the World's Mothers report. The Nordic countries sweep the top spots while, for the first time, countries in Sub-Saharan Africa take up each of the bottom ten places in the annual index.
The Mothers' Index, contained in the report, is a unique ranking of 176 countries around the globe, showing those that are succeeding - and those failing - in their support to mothers. It assesses mothers' well-being using indicators of maternal health, child mortality, education, and levels of women's income and political status.
The startling disparities between mothers in the developed and developing world are summed up around maternal risk. A woman or girl in the DRC has a one in 30 chance of dying from maternal causes - including childbirth - but in Finland the risk is one in 12,200. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which performs poorly across all indicators, girls are likely to be educated for eight and half years compared to Finland at the top, where girls can expect to receive over sixteen years of education.
"Research shows the importance of investing in mothers and children," said Save the Children President and CEO, Patricia Erb. "The prosperity and stability of a country improves as women are better educated, have better personal incomes and are politically represented. When women do better their children are healthier and do better in school. It starts a virtuous cycle of development. We have made great progress around the world but much more can be done to save and improve millions of the poorest mothers' and newborns' lives."
The Mothers' Index reveals the United States ranks 30th, behind countries with much lower incomes, such as Lithuania or Slovenia, owing to weaker performance on measures of maternal health and child-wellbeing: in the US, a girl is ten times more likely to die of a maternal cause than a girl in Singapore. Singapore itself is ranked 15th, above countries such as Canada (22nd) and the UK (23rd). But the report shows how all countries need to improve the education and health care of disadvantaged mothers.
The Birth Day Risk Index, also contained in the report, compares first-day death rates for babies in 186 countries. One million babies die each year on the day they enter the world - or two every minutes - making the first day by far the riskiest day of a person's life in almost every country in the world.
This is despite the low-cost interventions that are available to tackle the high rate of baby deaths on the first day of life. Sub-Saharan Africa remains by far the most dangerous region to be born - with the deaths of newborns actually increasing there in the past few decades. There, babies are more than seven times as likely to die on the day they are born as babies born in industrialized countries. A baby in Somalia, the most dangerous country, is 40 times more likely to die on its first day than a child born in Luxembourg, the safest.
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