Maternal and Child Mortality Development Goals: What Can the Transport Sector Do?


The reduction of child mortality and the improvement of maternal health are two of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Child and maternal mortalities continue to represent severe burdens in many developing countries. Every year, 527,000 women in developing countries die of pregnancy-related complications and nearly 4 million children die during their first month (accounting for 40 percent of all deaths under 5 years of age) with nearly all (98 percent) of them in developing countries. The risks of dying from pregnancy-related complications and a child dying under the age of five are highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.

This paper focuses on the ways in which transport and road infrastructure play key roles in the overall delivery of and access to health services, and in the effectiveness of the health referral process. Improved transport and roads for poorly served communities will contribute to reducing maternal and child mortality rates. However, transport interventions which are specifically designed to improve access to health services should be planned as part of a long-term integrated health and transport strategy, thereby ensuring that essential services are both affordable and financially sustainable. Community participation and mobilization are also crucial to ensure that transport arrangements are appropriate and socially acceptable. Improved communications can be an important complement, particularly for emergencies occur. Transport services for newborns need to relate to the arrangements made for mothers.


World Bank, Washington D.C., USA. Transport Paper No. TP-12, 50 pp.

Maternal and Child Mortality Development Goals: What Can the Transport Sector Do?

Published 1 January 2006