Charity’s claim ‘not off the mark’

A British charity’s recent appeal for donations said the death rates of mothers and young children in Kenya were very high, giving statistics to support the claim.
Penny Appeal works to “provide poverty relief across Asia, the Middle East and Africa”, according to its website
In its Fragile Lives appeal for Pakistan and Kenya, the registered charity made two startling claims.
“Kenya has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world, and over one in 20 children die before their fifth birthday.”
The appeal was also listed on the UK Aid Match website. This meant that for every pound donated, the UK government would add another from its international development budget. The donations drive ran from 10 March to 9 June 2019.
But do the two stats hold up to scrutiny? We checked.
“Kenya has one of the worst maternal mortality rates in the world.”

A maternal death is the death of a woman caused by any stage of pregnancy or by childbirth complications, up to six weeks after delivery.
The cause of death could be direct (such as excessive bleeding) or indirect (when pregnancy aggravates an existing condition such as kidney problems), but accidental deaths are excluded.
To get the maternal mortality rate, the average annual number of maternal deaths in a population is divided by the female population of reproductive age (typically those aged 15 to 49 years). This is according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The rate is not the same as the more commonly used mortality ratio, which gives the number of maternal deaths in relation to the number of live births. The two measures should not be used interchangeably, Dr Doris Chou, a medical officer with the department of reproductive health and research at the WHO, told Africa Check.
“These are all statistical measures and if someone wants to compare then you need to compare MMRatio to MMRatio and MMRate to MMRate, collected in the same methodology,” Chou said.
There were data series comparing the maternal mortality rate between some countries, but she hadn’t come across a “full series” that compared all countries.