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Measuring Maternal Mortality


Maternal mortality is an important global health issue. The fifth (UN) Millennium Development Goal (MDG5) sought to reduce maternal mortality by three quarters between 1990 and 2015 and achieve universal access to reproductive health. To continue the tremendous achievements in reducing maternal mortality made by many countries toward meeting the MDG5 target, the third Sustainable Development Goal aims to further reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.

The census provides a cost-effective opportunity to measure maternal mortality in countries without a comprehensive vital registration system. Household deaths in the past 12 months is a core topic in the United Nations’ Principles and Recommendations for Population and Housing Censuses. Maternal mortality can be measured directly by adding two follow-up questions to the household mortality questions in the census questionnaire. The census is also one of the few ways to obtain subnational measures of maternal mortality.


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