The United Nations (UN) on Thursday released statistics showing that for every minute that passes, more than five child births end in tragedy.

In a statement by the head of the UN children’s agency, Henrietta Fore, she said, “Around the world, birth is a joyous occasion. Yet, every 11 seconds, a birth is a family tragedy.

“A skilled pair of hands to help mothers and newborns around the time of birth, along with clean water, adequate nutrition, basic medicines and vaccines, can make the difference between life and death,” she insisted.

Two reports by several United Nations’ agencies showed clear global progress in reducing the number of pregnant women or new mothers and young children who die each year, pointing to improved access to affordable, quality health services.

“In countries that provide everyone with safe, affordable, high-quality health services, women and babies survive and thrive,” World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

“We must do all it takes to invest in universal health coverage to save these precious lives.”

The reports showed that stark inequalities persist around the world in accessing the services and care needed to ensure safe childbirth.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the direst situation, with levels of maternal deaths nearly 50 times higher than in high-income countries, and with babies there 10 times more likely to die than in wealthier parts of the world.

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