Muslim-majority countries have higher maternal, stillbirth, newborn, and child mortality rates compared with the global average and to non-Muslim-majority countries, according to research published on 30 January in Lancet.
As there is no indication that religion affects health outcomes, the study findings point to issues such as conflict, migration, political instability, and government effectiveness as key drivers of the differences in maternal and child mortality, according to the researchers led by Zulfiqar Bhutta, PhD, from the Centre for Global Child Health at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, and the Aga Khan University in Karachi, Pakistan.
While several Muslim-majority countries have made progress on indicators of empowerment and access to sexual and reproductive healthcare, greater efforts are now needed, according to the authors.
"Greater investments in reproductive, maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health are (also) some of our greatest tools in the face of rising levels of conflict and humanitarian crisis, which disproportionately affect Muslim-majority countries," said United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed in a linked comment. "We must prioritize the potential of women and adolescents as agents of peace through greater investments across health, education, and economic sectors."