Maternal Deaths Averted by Contraceptive Use: Results from a Global Analysis of 172 Countries
Saifuddin Ahmed, Johns Hopkins University
Qingfeng Li, Johns Hopkins University
Li Liu, Johns Hopkins University
Amy Tsui, Johns Hopkins University
Family planning is one of the four pillars of safe motherhood program for reducing high maternal mortality in developing countries. Early attempts to estimate the effect of family planning on maternal mortality were fraught with gross data paucity. With the recent availability of reliable data on maternal mortality and contraceptive use, we apply a counterfactual modeling approach replicating the WHO’s maternal mortality estimation method, and estimate maternal deaths averted by contraceptive use in 172 countries. We estimate that in the absence of contraceptive use the number of maternal deaths would be 1.8 times higher than the current level and that 38 maternal deaths are averted for every 100,000 contracepting women. Satisfying unmet contraceptive need can prevent another 29% maternal deaths from the current level. This study provides evidence that use of contraception is a substantial and effective primary prevention strategy for reducing maternal mortality in developing countries.