LONDON (AlertNet) - More than 50 countries are unlikely to meet internationally agreed targets for cutting mortality rates for young children and mothers by a 2015 deadline, according to a report.
The update is published by Countdown to 2015, which is tracking the efforts of 75 of the poorest countries towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) related to improving maternal, newborn and child health.
The MDGs are a set of eight goals adopted by world leaders in 2000 to fight poverty, disease and hunger.
The report, Building a Future for Women and Children, says some of the poorest countries have achieved amazing success in reducing child deaths, but far more needs to be done.
It says every minute nearly 15 young children die of disease and illness that could have been prevented or treated. Every two minutes a woman dies from pregnancy or childbirth complications. In many cases her newborn will also die.
"This is a race against time," said Dr Zulfiqar Bhutta, co-chair of Countdown and one of the report’s authors. "The pace has picked up, but countries need to make real change happen in the next three years if the world is going to keep its promise to millions of newborns, children, and women."
Some 52 countries look set to miss MDG 4 which calls for reducing the under-five mortality rate by two thirds between 1990 and 2015, according to the report.
And 66 countries will likely fail to meet MDG 5 which calls for a three-quarters reduction in the maternal mortality ratio in the same period.
But the report says great progress has been made by many countries.
Annual maternal deaths have fallen by almost half since 1990 and the number of children under five dying has dropped from 12 million to 7.6 million (2010).
Countries on track to reach both targets include Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Eritrea, Laos, Nepal and Vietnam.
(Editing by Rebekah Curtis)