New findings of maternal deaths in 181 countries suggest a significant drop worldwide in maternal mortality (Hogan and others 2010). Aggregate maternal deaths decreased by over 35 percent from about 526,300 in 1980 to 342,900 in 2008. More than half of all maternal deaths were concentrated in six countries---India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. All told, maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births decreased markedly from 422 in 1980 to 320 in 1990 and to 251 in 2008. The yearly rate of the decline in the global maternal mortality ratio since 1990 was 1.3 percent (with an uncertainty range of 1.0-1.5).
Progress is still varied. The Arab Republic Egypt, China, Ecuador, and Bolivia have been achieving rapid gains, and 23 countries are on track to meet MDG 5a. In Sub-Saharan Africa, central and eastern regions showed some improvement since 1990, but southern and western regions showed deterioration because of the significant number of pregnant women who died from HIV infection. In southern Africa, the maternal mortality ratio increased from 171 in 1990 to 381 in 2008.