The UN is greatly excited that maternal deaths in Africa fell by more than a quarter between 1990 and 2008. And they should be. It's a good improvement. Except that the global rate of improvement was 34%. And the 2008 figure still stands at 640 deaths per 100 000 live births. And these stats under-reported in many countries. And some countries' maternal mortality ratio has actually worsened. While Bolivia's deaths per 100 000 live births dropped from 439 to 180, Malawi's increased from 743 to 1140 and South Africa's from 120 to 236 (gapminder).
1000 women die every day in childbirth. Not some extreme sport or high-risk job, childbirth. These women are not dying because of disease. They're not dying because they take some unnecessary risk. They're not even dying because they are poor. They are dying because their governments are unwilling or unable to provide sufficient maternal health care (clinics, midwives, supplies) to stop it.
Preventable maternal deaths are simply not acceptable. There have been international moves in the last few months to do more but so much more pressure and work is needed to force the governments of the world's worst places to have a child to take reproductive health seriously enough to make the difference.