Every day, 800 women die from pregnancy-related causes during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum. Over 99% of these 289,000 annual deaths occur in developing countries, and most are avoidable, as the health-care solutions to prevent or manage complications are well known. About 62% of the deaths occurred in Sub-Saharan Africa with another 24% in South Asia – these two regions together account for 85% of maternal mortality in the world.
In the developing world, one way to reduce maternal mortality is to train professional midwives for both health facility and home deliveries. But what does the bigger picture of maternal mortality look like today?
The global maternal mortality ratio has fallen by 45% between 1990 and 2013, according to new estimates released today. This means that the world went from 380 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 210 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2013. While this decline represents substantial progress, the actual rate of decline is insufficient to reach Millennium Development Goal 5 (MDG 5) – a three-quarter reduction in 1990 levels by 2015. To truly reach the target, an annual average reduction of 5.5% would be needed between 1990 and 2015.
On behalf of the International Comparison Program (ICP) Executive Board and the World Bank, I’d like to thank everyone who’s contributed to the success of the 2011 round. The results are now available in report form, as a data download, and through interactive applications.
The largest global statistical program
The ICP is hosted by the World Bank, and estimates purchasing power parities, or PPPs, for use as currency converters to compare the size and price levels of economies around the world. In terms of geographic scope, implementation time frame and institutional partnerships, many people consider it to be the largest ever global statistical initiative. It’s conducted under the authority of the United Nations Statistical Commission, and the 2011 ICP round collected over 7 million prices from 199 economies in eight regions, with the help of 15 regional and international partners. It’s the most extensive effort to measure PPPs ever undertaken.
Data scientist may be the sexiest job of the current century, and everybody in the world may be crying hoarse over the growing shortage of data scientists, but if you are leading an international development project or an international development agency, chances are you don’t have a data scientist on your team and you likely aren’t looking for one. That’s a problem.
What will it take to make open data the default for all public data? How can developing countries leverage new data sources from the private sector? What can public and private organizations do to improve the quality of data collection, especially in developing countries? These were among the questions discussed during the World Bank’s recent official Spring Meetings data revolution event, “Talking about a Data Revolution,” as well as at an afternoon session with guests from the private sector. Some observers pointed out that the challenge is not always whether data is open, but whether data exists at all. If the data is accessible, and can be freely used, reused, and redistributed by anyone, then it's truly open.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim delivers closing remarks about the importance of using data for social good.
Bank data experts and open data specialists from the public and private sectors called for more experimentation and stronger partnerships. “Why are we development organizations only talking amongst ourselves, when the private sector is already using data to innovate?” asked Haishan Fu, Director, World Bank Group’s Development Economics Data Group (DECDG).
Where can you find the top trading partners for your country? Where can you find the top products exported to and imported from Indonesia? Where can you find just about any type of trade data?
The answers to these questions (and more) are available at our recently revamped World Integrated Trade Solution (WITS) site: wits.worldbank.org. In previous versions of the site, users needed to login and query the data themselves. You still can. And many still do to conduct much more detailed and sophisticated research and analysis on trade. But if you want to quickly look up or browse trade statistics like total exports, tariffs applied, top export, and import partners, the data has been pre-calculated and made available as Open Data.
“Thanks to the data I found on WITS, I successfully completed my PhD. Really easy-to-use site and great upgrades.”
– User in India
Although the World Bank collaborates with international agencies that work with external debt and debt-related statistics (the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and others), the World Bank has the international mandate to collect external debt data, and we maintain comprehensive external debt information.
What sparks a revolution? And what helps keep the transformational power of a revolution alive? When Jim Yong Kim became World Bank Group president less than two years ago, he stated that one of his first priorities was to position the World Bank Group as a “solutions bank.” Most recently, during his speech last Tuesday at the Council on Foreign Relations, Kim discussed the Bank’s efforts to invest in effective infrastructure, including data systems and social movements to empower the poor.
These three words – solutions, data and the poor – from my perspective, point to this: the data revolution needs to be transformational and we must act now. Unless we fully embrace this data revolution as a bold, timely opportunity to engage citizens, identify successful case studies, leverage global partnerships and technology, strive to learn from the private sector and truly aim to be innovative, we just may miss out on keeping this revolution alive. And while it is good news that the UN High Level Panel Report on the post-2015 development agenda confirms that the data revolution is high on the political agenda, we must also gather evidence and vigorously commit to an inclusive plan to meet this goal.