An expectant mother in Sweden. File photo: Jessica Gow/TT
Sweden offers the world's third best deal for mothers, but was beaten to the top spot by two neighbours. In contrast, the new report said that Somalia and the US needed to buck up and invest in maternal and infant health.
The State of the World's Mothers report, published by NGO Save the Children, ranked Sweden as third after neighbours Finland and Norway
. The ranking marked a drop for Sweden compared to last year's statistics
Sweden, however, can still lay claim to being the most successful country in the survey's 15-year history - finishing first on eight separate occasions.
The risk of a woman dying from pregnancy-related causes in Sweden is just one in 14,100. In comparison, every 38th woman in Tanzania is expected to die during pregnancy or while giving birth.
The study also highlighted Sweden's low infant mortality rate (2.9 children under the age of five die in Sweden per 1,000), and that Swedish women spent on average 15.8 years in school. The NGO used several social parametres to measure women's wellbeing in their role as mother, with the report making repeat references to Swedish women filling 45 percent of the Riksdag seats.
Save the Children said that Finland had won because it did well on all five of the organization's criteria: maternal health; education; children's well-being; economic status; and political status.
"Although Finland does not perform the absolute best overall in any indicator, it is the only country to place in the top 15 on all five indicators," the report concludes.
Tove Wang, Secretary General of Save the Children, said the gulf between the worst-performing country, Somalia, and Finland was "striking", with one in sixteen Somali women dying in childbirth, 15 percent of Somali children dying before age five. In Somalia, a girl would spend on average just two and a half years in school - the NGO linked education to women taking control of family planning and making informed decisions about having children.
"In Somalia, located at the very bottom of the list, there has been conflict for decades, and there has been little focus on building up basic services," she said. "There must be a security situation that makes it possible to build a robust health system. It has failed in Somalia because of the situation there."
The organization warned that the United States was slipping, having hit 31st place in Tuesday's statistics compared to when the country had been a top maternal health achiever in the early 1990s when the ranking was launched.
"The United States is among the countries that has made the least progress since 2000 on maternal and child survival," the report warned.
Top Ten Countries for Mothers
5. The Netherlands
9. Australia and Belgium in joint place