Niger Ousts Afghanistan As Worst Place To Be A Mother
May 10, 2012

Niger Ousts Afghanistan As Worst Place To Be A Mother

Just days before Mother´s Day, the Save the Children foundation released their 13th annual ranking of the best and worst countries to be a mom. To get these results, the foundation measured 165 countries in areas such as breastfeeding rates, infant mortality and mothers´ education. Norway, Iceland and Sweden have topped the charts, respectively, as the world´s best places to be a mother. America has risen to 25th place, up from last year´s 31st. According to this year´s results, Niger has removed Afghanistan from last year´s title as “Worst Place To Be A Mother.”

According to the Guardian, there are several reasons why Niger has been listed as the worst place to be a mom. To begin, food is becoming scarce, and Niger struggles to feed itself even in the best of times. The survey also attributes a high maternal mortality rate to Niger´s slipping score, as well as a lack of access to contraception and poor income.

Malnutrition is also of huge concern to the Save the Children foundation, saying 2.6 million children die each year from poor diets.

"Millions more children survive, but suffer lifelong physical and cognitive impairments because they did not get the nutrients they needed early in their lives when their growing bodies and minds were most vulnerable," said a spokesperson for Save the Children, according to the AFP news agency.

"Of the 10 countries at the bottom of Save the Children's annual index, seven are in the midst of a food crisis," the report said.

Also at the bottom of their list are countries Yemen, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Eritrea, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Afghanistan, no longer in last place, had remained at the bottom for 2 years. The foundation attributed their rise to the amount of births attended by trained professionals and the number of girls receiving a formal education.

The United States also moved up, from number 31 last year to number 25, an impressive gain, but still below most other nations of similar wealth.

"A woman in the US is more than seven times as likely to die of a pregnancy-related cause in her lifetime than a woman in Italy or Ireland," said Carolyn Miles, president and chief executive officer of Save the Children, according to AFP.

"When it comes to the number of children enrolled in preschools or the political status of women, the United States also places in the bottom 10 countries of the developed world."

Another area where the States could improve is the high risk of dying from childbirth. According to Miles, mothers in the USA have a 1-2100 risk of fatality during childbirth, a number which is higher than any other industrialized nation.

Miles also says the death rate for children younger than 5 years old is 8 per every 1,000 births. This number puts the US on par with Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to USA Today. In fact, a child born in the USA is 4 times as likely to die before their 5th birthday than a child born in Iceland.

Finally, Miles says maternity policies in the USA are of the least generous of other wealthy nations. She says America is the only developed country which does not guarantee paid leave for working mothers.

"The US has moved up, but it's still not great, falling near the bottom among most wealthy nations," Miles says.