Which Are the Best and Worst Places for Moms?

Best and Worst Places for Moms
Best and Worst Places for Moms

The United States continues its descent in the global rankings of best and worst places for moms, slipping to 33rd out of 179 surveyed countries, reveals Save the Children’s new report, “State of the World’s Mothers 2015: The Urban Disadvantage.” Norway rose to the top of the list, which was released Monday, while Somalia remained last for the second year.

The report indicates that women in the United States face a 1 in 1,800 risk of maternal death. This is the worst level of risk of any developed country in the world. An American woman is more than 10 times as likely to eventually die in pregnancy or childbirth as a Polish woman. And an American child is just as likely to die as a child in Bosnia and Herzegovina or Serbia.

“We need to do more to make sure that all mothers and babies have a fair chance of survival and a happy, healthy life – no matter where they live,” said Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children. “Save the Children believes that a mother in Somalia, or frankly a mother in America, deserves the same opportunity to thrive as a mother in Norway.”

The 10 bottom-ranked countries – all but two of them from West and Central Africa – are a reverse image of the top 10, and reflect political and economic instability, armed conflict and poor governance.

Conditions for mothers and their children in the bottom countries are grim, as nations struggle to provide the basic infrastructure for the health and wellness of their citizens. In these countries, on average, 1 woman in 30 dies from pregnancy-related causes, and 1 child in 8 dies before his or her fifth birthday.

In much of the world, according to Save the Children, more children than ever before are living to see their fifth birthday. Today, around 17,000 fewer children die every day compared to 25 years ago, and the global under-5 mortality rate has been cut nearly in half, from 90 to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births. But these numbers mask a harrowing reality for mothers living in poverty, especially in cities, where more and more are choosing to raise their kids.

The report identifies a devastating disparity in survival and health among rich and poor urban children around the world, including the United States. With more than half of the world’s population living in cities, failure to address the needs of the urban poor threatens to stall further progress in ending preventable child deaths.

Save the Children’s 16th annual ranking assesses the well-being of mothers and children in 179 countries – more than in any previous year. The full report is available here.

Photo courtesy: Alfonso Daniels / Save the Children

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Rakesh Raman