The rate of maternal deaths has fallen by almost half across the world in the last 25 years, according to a report by United Nations agencies and the World Bank released on Thursday. A World Health Organisation official said, "This report will show that by the end of 2015 maternal mortality will have dropped by 44% from its levels from 1990. This is huge progress but the progress is uneven across countries, across different regions of the world.”

The report said that in 2015, around 303,000 women died as a result of complications during pregnancy or up to six weeks after giving birth, down from 532,000 in 1990. "This equates to an estimated global ratio of 216 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, down from 385 in 1990," it said.

As part of the Millennium Development Goals adopted in 2000, UN member states had pledged to reduce maternal mortality by 75% by 2015 from 1990 levels, reported Agence France-Presse. However, only nine countries have achieved this target, although 39 others have registered "significant progress" in reducing maternal deaths, according to the WHO. The UN has now set a goal of reducing the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70% per 100,000 live births by 2030.

The greatest improvement was in eastern Asia, where the maternal mortality ratio fell from approximately 95 to 27 per 100,000 live births. Sub-Saharan Africa, which accounted for two out of every three maternal deaths in the world, saw nearly 45% fewer maternal deaths over the period, the report said.