Canada ranks 20th-best country in the world to be a mother
Emily Chan, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, May 5, 2015 9:09AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 5, 2015 4:30PM EDT
With its relatively low rates of maternal and child deaths, high per capita income, and years of formal schooling, Canada is the 20th-best country in the world to be a mother, according to a new global ranking.
The organization Save the Children says Canadian mothers fare better than their counterparts in most other countries, but still fall behind those in Australia, Singapore and many European countries.
The 2015 Mother’s Index ranks Norway as the best country in the world to be a mother, followed by Finland and Iceland. Somalia ranked last out of the 179 countries in the index, scoring just below the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The United States placed 33rd, and the United Kingdom came in 24th.
Save the Children based the rankings on statistics on maternal deaths, under-five mortality rates, schooling, income per capita, and the number of women in government.
According to the index, one out of every 5,200 mothers in Canada dies from pregnancy related causes. That is almost three times more deaths than in top-ranked Norway, where one in every 14,900 mothers dies from similar causes. Maternal deaths are also far less frequent in Poland, where one in every 19,800 mothers lose their lives because of problems during pregnancy or childbirth.
In Somalia, the number is one in 18.
In terms of infant mortality, 5.2 out of every 1,000 Canadian children die before reaching the age of five. That is more than double the under-five deaths in Iceland, where 2.1 in every 1,000 young children die, but far less than in Angola, where 167.4 out of every 1,000 children die before turning five.
"This is the generation that can change the deaths of (children under the age of five)," Patricia Erb, president and CEO of Save the Children Canada, told CTV News Channel.
"We have very strong maternal infant programs in all of the international development programs funded by Canada – we can do it in Canada too," she added.
In order to climb the rankings, Erb said that Canada needs to focus on three main areas: children's education, health care for mothers and their kids and getting more women in political positions.
Erb said Canada also needs to put emphasis on improving the living conditions of its aboriginal population.
"The focus on indigenous (peoples) is central for Canada (and) the numbers are something we should be able to change," said Erb.
The annual Mother’s Index is part of Save the Children’s 2015 State of the World’s Mothers report, which was released Monday.
The overall report focused on how urbanization and poverty affect mothers and children. It found that inequality is on the rise in cities, leaving the world’s poorest mothers and children at greater risk. In cities in countries such as Bangladesh, India, and Kenya, the gap between rich and poor is so big that poor children are three to five times more likely to die than wealthy children, the report found.
"One of the worst places in the world to be a mother is in an urban slum," Margaret Chan, the director-general of the World Health Organization, wrote in the report. "Giving greater attention to the health needs of the urban poor—the mothers and children left behind—is essential."
The Canadian government has made maternal, newborn, and child health a priority in its approach to international development.
In May 2014, Canada hosted the Saving Every Woman Every Child summit, where it promised to spend $3.5 billion on maternal and infant health before the year 2020. In a September speech to the United Nations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper called mother and child health the cause "closest to his heart."