Vietnam is one of 10 nations that has successfully reduced child and maternal deaths. It cut under-five mortality by 60 percent from 58 to 23.2 per 1,000 live births between 1990 and 2012. This amounted to saving the lives of 23.4 million children.

At the same time it cut maternal mortality by 70 percent from 233 to 69 per 100,000 live births - a saving of 70,000 lives.

The country increased coverage of births attended by trained health workers from 77 percent in 1997 to 98 percent in 2012 and stunting prevalence dropped from close to 40 percent in 1999 to 25.9 percent in 2013.

Vietnam cut child deaths by 2.4 million and maternal deaths by about 70,000 compared to 1990 mortality rates.

The other nations were Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, Laos, Nepal, Peru, and Rwanda.

These statistics were revealed at the third forum of the Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Childhealth that opened in Johannesburg, South Africa on June 30.

The world had made remarkable progress to improve health and expand opportunities over the past 14 years, however, there was still much more to be done, said chair of the group, Graca Machel.

"Women and children have not been covered adequately. We must ensure that all women, adolescent girls, children and new-borns, no matter where they live, can have their rights to health and education fulfilled," she said.

Despite improvements, 289,000 women around the world still die every year from complications at birth. Another 6.6 million children do not live to see their fifth birthday, including nearly 3 million new-borns.

At least 200 million women and girls are unable to access family planning services that would allow them to control when they have children. In several countries, more than half mothers and children in the poorest 20 percent still receive only two or fewer of the eight interventions deemed essential for preventing or treating common causes of maternal and child death, including vaccinations, skilled birth attendance, pneumonia and diarrhoea treatment, and access to family planning, according to the Countdown to 2015 Report for 2014.

The figures underscore a need to improve access to quality of skilled delivery care around the time of birth, when most stillbirths and maternal and new-born deaths occur.

Delegates at the forum emphasised the importance of ensuring that future efforts should focus on countries that make slow progress and on poor and marginalised populations, including new-borns and adolescents. They also urged political leaders to work across different sectors, including education, skills and employment, water supply and sanitation, nutrition, energy, roads and women's empowerment, to ensure an integrated approach to improving the health of women and children.

The two-day global forum draws more than 800 leaders and public health experts from around the world.

The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Childhealth is an achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, with women and children enabled to realise their right to the highest attainable standard of health in the years to 2015 and beyond.-VNA