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Life's better for West Africa's mothers these days, but conditions still dire: report

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Yvan Travert /akg-images/Newscom

(Read caption) In this 2007 photo, a Bassar woman is seen carrying a load on her head and a child in a sling on her back, in Togo, West Africa. In a new report released by Save the Children that ranks conditions for mothers across the globe, West African countries are near the bottom.

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Still looking for a little something to give Mom this Sunday? How about some clean water, a few years of education, or maybe even a trained health worker to assist her the next time she goes into labor?

Oh wait; she probably already has those things, assuming she lives in the developed world. Here in West Africa, it’s a very different story.

Just in time for Mother’s Day, the nongovernmental organization Save the Children has released its annual State of the World's Mothers Report that ranks conditions for mothers across the globe. (Norway is first, Afghanistan is last, and the United States is 31st, in case you were wondering.)

On the surface, the motherhood picture looks pretty bleak for West African countries, many of which still hover near the bottom of the rankings for things like child mortality, pregnancy-related deaths, and access to clean drinking water. But keep digging through the report and you’ll come across nuggets of hope.

In Nigeria, for instance, the number of children who died under the age of five dropped by more than a third between 1990 and 2009. The same figure fell by 43 percent in Ghana over the same period, while the number of Ghanaians who are undernourished was cut in half. In Mali, a woman’s lifetime risk of death from childbirth was one in 22 in 2009. That’s hardly a happy figure, but 10 years earlier, the rate was twice as high.

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