Top 10 Countries for Mothers and Children

Top 10 Countries for Mothers and Children
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Save the Children’s 12th annual Mothers’ Index was released yesterday, comparing the well-being of mothers and children in 164 of the world’s countries. Nordic and European countries dominated the Top 10 list, while African countries did so in the Bottom 10. The United States was in the top 20 percent, ranking 31st in the survey.

The data collected for the Mothers’ Index, gleaned from information published by governments, research institutions and international agencies, documents the tremendous gaps between rich and poor countries and the urgent need to accelerate progress in the health and well-being of mothers and their children

Norway, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands make up 60 percent of the Top 10 list, with France and Belgium representing Southern Europe and Australia and New Zealand grabbing the final two spots. In order the rankings are:

  1. Norway
  2. Australia
  3. Iceland
  4. Sweden
  5. Denmark
  6. New Zealand
  7. Finland
  8. Belgium
  9. Netherlands
  10. France

Common among the Top 10 countries are the availability of skilled health professionals, education for women, access to birth control, low miscarriage rate, and longevity.  Children get an adequate diet, are well educated, have access to clean water, and have a low risk of death.

The 10 bottom-ranked countries contain eight from sub-Saharan Africa, along with 2 Arab countries. Poverty and the woman’s place in society were significant factors in the ranking.  According to the index: Conditions for mothers and their children in the bottom countries are grim. On average, 1 woman in 30 will die from pregnancy-related causes, 1child in 6 dies before his or her fifth birthday, and 1 child in 3 suffers from malnutrition. Nearly 50 percent of the population lacks access to safe water and only 4 girls for every 5 boys are enrolled in primary school.

Interesting facts from the index include:

  • 1 child in 5 does not reach his or her fifth birthday in Afghanistan, Chad and Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Finland, Greece, Iceland, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Singapore, Slovenia and Sweden, only 1 child in 333 dies before age 5.
  • Fewer than 15 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Chad and Afghanistan. In Ethiopia, only 6 percent of births are attended. Compare that to 99 percent in Sri Lanka and 95 percent in Botswana.
  • 1 woman in 11 dies in pregnancy or childbirth in Afghanistan. The risk is 1 in 14 in Chad and Somalia. In Italy and Ireland, the risk of maternal death is less than 1 in 15,000 and in Greece it’s 1 in 31,800.

The full report can be downloaded here.

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