The cost of saving lives? Under $5 per person, says health study

Ninety-five percent of maternal and child deaths occur in 74 low- and middle-income countries

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The lives of millions of women and children can be saved every year with an investment of under $5 per person on basic healthcare and contraception, a study into pregnancy-related deaths showed Saturday.

Nearly six million children younger than five and 300,000 women died in 2015, according to research in The Lancet medical journal.

Ninety-five percent of maternal and child deaths occur in 74 low- and middle-income countries.

"Many of these deaths could be prevented if high-impact and affordable solutions reached the populations that needed them most," study leader Robert Black of John Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health said in a statement.

"Our analysis shows that expanding access to care to keep more mothers and children alive and healthy is feasible, and a highly cost-effective investment."

Four million lives could be saved each year by reaching 90 percent of those in need with basic services such as pregnancy and delivery care, childhood nutrition, and treatment for infectious diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria, said the team.

This was broken down into 1.5 million newborn deaths, 1.5 million child deaths, 149,000 newborn deaths and almost 850,000 stillbirths.

Access to contraception on its own, could reduce 67,000 maternal deaths, 440,000 newborn deaths, 473,000 child deaths and 564,000 stillbirths, they estimated.

The cost would be $6.2 billion (5.4 billion euros) in low-income countries, or $6.7 per person who needs it.

In lower middle-income countries, the required amount is $12.4 billion or $4.70 per person, and in middle-income countries $8 billion or $3.90 per person.

Overall, the cost per head would be $4.70, the team said.

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