New Data Shows Progress for Maternal Health

Story bubbles on world map
Source: Ashoka

The maternal health community has been buzzing this week about a report on maternal health released by the Lancet and featured in the New York Times. The report uses new and improved maternal health data to evidence significant declines in maternal mortality worldwide between 1980 and 2008. Why is this so exciting? One word: progress!

If you’ve ever read an article about maternal health, I bet you can find this sentence in the first paragraph: “Millennium Development Goal 5 - ‘improve maternal health’ - has made the least amount of progress of any MDG over the past three decades.” Or maybe you’ve heard: “Every minute, every hour, a woman dies from complications related to childbirth.” With the improved data that has just been released, it’s time for new language and with it a newfound hope for maternal health globally.

Now that we finally know that the solutions are working, we must look to the next generation of maternal health leaders to sustain this momentum and continue to innovate more effective strategies to improve access to health for the hardest-to-reach women. Ashoka’s recent Changemakers competition, “Healthy Mothers, Strong World: The Next Generation of Ideas for Maternal Health”, sourced hundreds of new ideas for the field from organizations and young innovators around the world.

In June, 15 Young Champions of Maternal Health (this “next generation” of young leaders to propel the field) will be publicly announced on These Young Champions – selected for their new idea, entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, and social impact – will each have the opportunity to work with an Ashoka Fellow for a nine-month mentorship abroad. Together, Young Champions and Ashoka Fellows will build new ideas and strategies to further reduce maternal morbidity and mortality worldwide.

Check out to read and discuss the entries proposed!