Health in developing countries

Supporting detail:

Improving reproductive, maternal and newborn healthcare

Globally, 215 million women who want to delay or avoid pregnancy are not able to use an effective method of family planning. Each year there are 75 million unintended pregnancies and 22 million girls and women have unsafe abortions.

Most deaths in pregnancy or childbirth in developing countries are entirely avoidable, yet about 300,000 women and girls die every year, and for every woman who dies, up to 30 more suffer a debilitating illness or permanent disability.

Investing in reproductive, maternal and newborn health saves lives and is highly cost effective. Simply meeting the need for family planning could prevent around a third of maternal deaths and a fifth of newborn deaths.

We believe we should give girls and women the ability to choose whether and when to have children and how many children to have, and we need to make sure pregnancy and child birth are safe.

What we are doing

From 2010 to 2015 we will spend an additional £2.1 billion on women’s and newborn health. This will include working to:

  • save the lives of at least 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth and 250,000 newborn babies by 2015
  • help at least 24 million girls and women to use modern methods of family planning (including 1 million young women)
  • prevent more than 20 million unintended pregnancies
  • support at least 2 million safe deliveries providing long lasting improvements to maternity services, for example by training more doctors and midwives.

Read our framework for results: Choices for women: Planned pregnancies, safe births and healthy newborns (December 2010).