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Best and worst places to be a mum

Save the Children report reveals best and worst places to be a mum

To coincide with Mother's Day, Save the Children has published its ninth annual State of the World's Mothers report, comparing the best and worst countries in which to be a mother and child.

The report highlights which countries are doing the best – and which are worst – at reaching children with basic healthcare measures and shows how millions of lives can be saved if children – especially the poorest – receive essential, low-cost care. It also looks at the survival gaps between the poorest and best-off children in developing countries.

More than 200 million children under five in developing countries are missing out on basic, lifesaving interventions that are often taken for granted in the developed world: antibiotics, vaccines, oral rehydration therapies, prenatal care and trained assistance during childbirth.

Every year more than 500,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth – and nearly 10 million children die before their fifth birthday. Almost all these deaths occur in developing countries where mothers, children and newborns lack access to basic health care services.

John Bowis, Executive Director of Save the Children New Zealand says: "The world's child mortality rates equate to the 2004 Asian tsunami striking every 40 days and killing only children – nearly all of them among the poorest of our world's 6.5 billion people.

"These statistics go far beyond mere numbers. The human despair and lost opportunities represented here demand mothers everywhere be given the basic tools they need to break the cycle of poverty and improve the quality of life for themselves, their children and for generations to come."

The report highlights the huge disparity between countries in the developed world, and those at the opposite end of the spectrum, such as Niger, Chad, Sierra Leone and Angola.

It shows how a typical New Zealand woman will enjoy a full formal education, and live to be 83 years old; 72 percent of those of childbearing age use some modern method of contraception, and one in every 167 will lose a child before his or her fifth birthday.

However, in bottom-ranked Niger, a typical woman receives less than three years' education and will live to be just 45. Only four percent of women are using modern contraception and one child in four dies before his or her fifth birthday.

Says John Bowis: "This report reminds us of the inextricable link between the well-being of mothers and their children. When mothers have health care, education and economic opportunity, both they and their children have the best chance to survive and thrive.

"In more developed countries it is the poorest most marginalised children who suffer the most from inadequate health care and the likelihood of early death. The children who die before their fifth birthday in industrialised countries tend to be from low-income, ethnic minority groups, and their early death rates can be many times higher than those of the majority. "

Among New Zealand Maori, infant mortality rates are more than twice as high as the general population. In Australia, Aboriginal infants die at rates three times higher than the national average.

John Bowis says: "Save the Children calls on the world's leaders to take stock of how mothers and children are faring in every country. Investing in this most basic partnership of all – between a mother and her child – is the first and best step in ensuring healthy children, prosperous families and strong communities."

The report ranks New Zealand ranks 4th in the world behind leaders Sweden, Norway and Iceland, as the best place to be a mother with children, attaining high scores for health, educational and economic status. Australia rates 6th and the UK 14th.

[ends]

Notes to editors Save the Children works in more than 120 countries and has more than 85 years experience in working with the poorest communities. To address the global challenge of saving mothers' and children's lives, Save the Children is working on four fronts:

1. We work to increase awareness of the challenges and solutions to maternal, newborn and child survival, calling attention to areas where greater investments are needed.

2. Globally, Save the Children encourages action by mobilising people around the world to support programmes to reduce maternal, newborn and child mortality, and to advocate for increased leadership, commitment and funding.

3. Across the World Save the Children works in partnership with national health ministries and local organisations to deliver high quality health services throughout the developing world.

4. Within our programmes Save the Children leads the way in research about what works best to save the lives of babies in the first month of life.

Copies of the full report, an executive summary and fact sheets can be downloaded from our website: www.savethechildren.org.nz/new_zealand/about_us/worldsmothers.html

ENDS

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