An annual report by the charity Save the Children lists the best and worst countries in the world to be a mother.
Mothers in Somalia face the biggest challenges, according to Save the Children's "State of World Mothers 2014" report. The nonprofit analyzed data on maternal health, child mortality, education and income in 178 countries.
"It's no surprise that the 10 toughest places to be a mother…all have a recent history of armed conflict and are considered to be fragile states…The poorest mothers have it the hardest." Jasmine Whitbread, Save the Children International's chief executive
Finland remained the best country in the world to be a mother, followed by Sweden, Norway, Iceland and the Netherlands. In Finland, the risk of mothers dying during childbirth is 1 in 12,200, and Finnish children receive 17 years of formal education. The U.S. came in 31st place, down a spot from 2013.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, which was at the bottom of the list in 2013, mothers suffer through war, poverty and malnourishment, resulting in high mortality rates for children under age five. Seven of the 10 bottom-ranked countries in 2013 were in sub-Saharan Africa.
Since 1970, the child mortality rate worldwide has dropped by over half, despite the global population almost doubling. The charity says 1 million deaths per year could be avoided through simple techniques such as using antiseptics to disinfect the umbilical cord after birth, and steroids to help premature babies breathe.
The UN's children's agency UNICEF on June 10 called attention to a "highly alarming" outbreak of measles in Somalia -- believed to affect over 1,000 children in 2014. Potentially fatal complications are often brought on by hunger and a lack of medical centers.
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