Although widespread progress has been made in recent decades, women, children and adolescents still face numerous health challenges, with many factors often affecting each other. Causes of preventable death and ill-health include communicable and non-communicable diseases, mental illness, injuries and violence, malnutrition, complications of pregnancy and childbirth, unwanted pregnancy and lack of access to, or use of, quality health-care services and life-saving commodities.8,9,34 Underlying structural causes include poverty, gender inequality (manifested in discrimination in laws, policies and practice) and marginalization (based on age, ethnicity, race, caste, national origin, immigration status, disability, sexual orientation and other grounds) that are all human rights violations.35,36
Other factors that significantly influence health and well-being include: genetics; families, communities and institutions; underlying unequal gender norms within households; income and education levels; social and political contexts; the workplace; and the environment.34
The data in the following infographics highlight some of the most pressing health challenges faced globally by women, children and adolescents at the time of the
Health outcomes among women, children and adolescents are worse when people are marginalized or excluded from society, affected by discrimination, or live in underserved communities—especially among the poorest and least educated and in the most remote areas.6 In low- and middle-income countries there can be:34
This equity gap is clearly visible when comparing health outcomes for women, children and adolescents within countries (Figure 2) and across regions (Figure 3).
* Data from national Demographic and Health Surveys in 49 low- and middle-income countries, 2005–2012.
** Education data are not available for 10 countries.39
* These data are based on the 2014 United Nations Interagency Estimates and the WHO regional grouping of countries with separate data for North America and Latin America.8,9 Data on individual countries, and by alternative regional groupings, are available in the related references. MM=maternal mortality—lifetime risk (probability that a 15-year-old female will die eventually from a maternal cause assuming that current levels of fertility and mortality, including maternal mortality, do not change in the future, taking into account competing causes of death); U5M=under-five mortality—proxy measure of the risk of a child dying before the age of five (calculated by dividing 1,000 live births by the average under-five mortality rate for each region).8,9