05/27/2014 03:51 EDT | Updated 07/27/2014 05:59 EDT

Facts about maternal and child health problems in poorer countries

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hosting a three-day international conference in Toronto. The conference, "Saving Every Woman, Every Child," is a follow-up to the so-called Muskoka Initiative from the 2010 G8 summit which emphasized measures to improve maternal and child health care in poorer countries.

Some facts about maternal and child health:

The problem: Since 1990, the deaths of mothers in childbirth and children under age five have been cut in half, but each year, 2.9 million newborn babies die, while 2.6 million are stillborn.

Canada's contribution: Harper pledged $2.8 billion to the cause in 2010.

Dangerous times: About 46 per cent of maternal deaths occur during labour; three quarters of newborn deaths occur in the first week.

Highest numbers of neonatal deaths: India (779,000), Nigeria (267,000), Pakistan (202,400), China (157,400), Democratic Republic of the Congo (118,100).

Main causes of deaths in newborns: Complications from preterm births, birth asphyxia, infections such as meningitis, sepsis and pneumonia.