The index, which assesses mothers’ well-being using indicators of mental health, under-five mortality rates, levels of women’s education, income and political status, ranks the Nordic countries - Finland, Norway and Iceland in the top five, while the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia take the bottom spots.
According to the statistics, the UK now has a higher death rate for the under-fives than 21 other European counties, including those with lower GDPs such as Cyprus, Portugal and Czech Republic. In 2011, the under-five mortality rate in the UK was 5.2 per 1,000 live births, whereas in Cyprus it was 3.1 and Portugal 3.4.
Women in Britain have a higher chance of dying during pregnancy or childbirth than women in less wealthy countries. This is thought to be because the UK has a higher proportion of younger and older mothers than much of Europe and the poor health of some pregnant women in this country-including obesity and heart disease.
The report - ‘State of the World’s Mothers’ - also shows that the UK has fewer women in Parliament, with 23 per cent of Parliamentary seats held by women compared to 43 per cent in Finland.
Last year’s report ranked the UK in 10th place, however a spokesperson for Save the Children said a fair like-for-like comparison can not be made as the charity has changed the way it counts data and this year’s report includes more countries.
Brendan Cox, Save the Children’s policy director, said, ‘This ranking reminds us that even in wealthy countries, there will be higher rates of mortality in the poorest communities and no country should be complacenet.
‘This situation is, of course, far worse in the poorest countries where many more mothers and babies are lost from what should be simple preventable causes.’
The charity is now calling on the UK Government to make sure that universal access to healthcare and better nutrition is a priority at home and abroad.