A decrease in maternal deaths during childbirth helped to bring Norway to the top spot. The third best country for mothers this year is Iceland, followed by Denmark and Sweden in fourth and fifth place respectively.
Norway surpassed Finland in this years' rankings due to Norway's high scores in all five of the study's criteria.
The index used data on women’s health, children’s health, educational attainment, economic well-being and female political participation to rank 179 countries and show where mothers and children fare best and where they face the greatest hardships.
The top 10 countries generally attained very high scores for mothers’ and children’s health, educational, economic and political status, the report states.
While countries with the highest living standards hope for the top spots on such lists, the non-profit Save the Children Federation says the report is meant to focus on the plight of the world’s urban poor.
9 out of 11 countries at bottom 'fundamentally failing'
Every day, 17,000 children die before reaching their fifth birthday, according to the report. Increasingly, these preventable deaths are occurring in city slums, where overcrowding and poor sanitation exist alongside skyscrapers and shopping malls.
Nine of the bottom 11 countries are conflict-affected or otherwise considered to be fragile states, the report states, which means they are failing in fundamental ways to perform functions necessary to meet their citizens’ basic needs.
"Save the Children’s 16th annual State of the World’s Mothers report focuses on our rapidly urbanizing world and the poorest mothers and children who must struggle to survive despite overall urban progress," the report states.
The report presents the latest and most extensive analysis to date of health disparities between rich and poor in cities.
It finds that in most developing countries, the poorest urban children are at least twice as likely to die as the richest urban children. In some countries, they are 3 to 5 – or even more – times as likely to die.