Bangladesh SOWM Press Release 2014

Tuesday 6 May 2014

Bangladesh ranks 130th on the best places in the world to be a mother, rising six spots, Save the Children says

DHAKA, BANGLADESH – Bangladesh rose six spots on Save the Children’s 2014 Mothers’ Index, widening the gap from neighbours India and Pakistan, to reach 130th out of 178 countries globally. The country however still lags behind other countries in the region, such as Nepal (116th) and Sri Lanka (89th).

The index is a part of the children’s aid agency’s annual State of the World’s Mothers report, now in its fifteenth edition, showing which countries are succeeding – and which are failing – in saving and improving the lives of mothers and their children. Overall, Finland was ranked the best place to be a mother for the second straight year and Somalia came in last.

The report shows that maternal and child mortality can be cut dramatically, even in the most challenging countries of the world, when efforts are made to improve services for mothers and children. In Bangladesh over the past 15 years maternal mortality decreased by 60 percent, child mortality was cut by half, average number of  years of schooling increased by 3 years, and gross national income per capita as well as the number of women in parliament more than doubled.

“Bangladesh has been consistently rising on the State of the World’s Mothers index, with dramatic cuts in maternal and child mortality. This is a result of strong political will and willingness to invest in healthcare for children,” says Michael Foley, Director of Health and Nutrition for Save the Children in Bangladesh. “However, at 130th position, Bangladesh still has a long way to go in ending preventable child and maternal deaths. One out of every 24 children die before their fifth birthday, 60 percent of those within the first 28 days of life, many from conditions which would have been easily treatable if they had access to a skilled health worker. Another concern is that Government funding for health as a percentage of the total budget has been decreasing over time, rather than increasing.”

This year’s State of the World’s Mothers report focuses on mothers in humanitarian crises in order to better understand and respond to their needs. Mothers in humanitarian crises are often faced with many obstacles to keep their children healthy – such as physical and economic access to essential services – while their own vulnerability to poverty, malnutrition, sexual violence, unplanned pregnancy and unassisted childbirth greatly increases. 

“Bangladesh has always been vulnerable to cyclones and seasonal floods, which cause losses in crops and livestock and damages to homes and other assets in the worst-affected areas. In turn this can result in a spike in malnutrition, school dropouts, and inability to afford health services,” says Michael McGrath, Country Director, Save the Children. “In the aftermath of such disasters, young children are particular vulnerable to waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea due to the lack of clean drinking sources. The lack of medical care in those crucial days could also be fatal.”

To protect mothers and children in the aftermath of disasters, Save the Children is calling upon governments and civil society to:

·         Ensure that every mother and newborn living in crisis has access to high quality health care, including family planning services, and breastfeeding counselling

·         Build the resilience of health systems to minimise the damaging effects of crises on health

·         Develop national and local preparedness plans tailored to respond to the specific needs of mothers, children and babies in emergencies

·         Ensure adequate financing and coordination to timely respond to mothers and children’s needs in emergencies


For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact Taskin Rahman, Deputy Manager, EVERY ONE Campaign, Save the Children (

Notes to Editors:

The five indicators and data sources to measuring the best and worst places to be a mother:

1.       Lifetime risk of maternal death: The probability that a 15-year-old female will die eventually from a maternal cause. This indicator takes into account both the probability of becoming pregnant and the probability of dying as a result of that pregnancy, accumulated across a woman’s reproductive years. Data are for 2010. Source: United Nations Inter-agency Group (WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA and the World Bank). Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2010. (WHO: Geneva: 2012)

2.       Under-5 mortality rate: The probability of dying between birth and exactly 5years of age, expressed per 1,000 live births. Data are for 2012. Source: United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UNICEF, WHO, UN Population Division, and the World Bank) 2013. Retrieved from CME Info on March 13, 2014.

3.       Expected number of years of formal schooling: School life expectancy (SLE) is defined as the number of years a child of school entrance age can expect to spend in school and university (i.e. primary, secondary and tertiary education), including years spent on repetition, if prevailing patterns of age-specific enrollment rates persist throughout the child’s life. Data are for 2013 or the most recent year available. Sources: UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2014). Data Centre, supplemented with data from: UNDP. Expected Years of Schooling (2013). Accessed March 13, 2014.

4.       Gross national income (GNI) per capita: Aggregate income of an economy generated by its production and its ownership of factors of production, less the incomes paid for the use of factors of production owned by the rest of the world, converted to U.S. dollars using the World Bank Atlas method, divided by midyear population. Data are for 2012 or the most recent year available. Sources: The World Bank (2013). Data Catalog, supplemented with data from: UN SNA Main Aggregates database (2013). Accessed March 13, 2014.

5.       Participation of women in national government: The share of seats occupied by women in a single house or, in the case of countries with bicameral legislatures, upper and lower houses of national parliament. Data reflect the situation as of January 1, 2014. Source: Inter-Parliamentary Union (2014). Women in National Parliaments. Accessed March 13, 2014