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Posts Tagged ‘Asia’

In April, the Lancet published new maternal mortality estimates (out of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation) that showed a significant reduction in global maternal deaths, shaking up the global health community’s understanding of the global burden of the issue–and providing new hope. The report also illustrated the important links between HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality.

In the wake of the Lancet report, maternal health professionals from various organizations engaged in robust dialogue (like this one) about measurement methodologies–and raised questions about when the World Health Organization would release their estimates and how they might differ from the IHME estimates.

On September 15th, WHO, UNICEF, UNFPA, and the World Bank released their new maternal mortality estimates in a report, Trends in maternal mortality. Their report also showed a significant drop in maternal deaths—a 34% decrease between 1990 and 2008.

Excerpt from the WHO press release:

“The new estimates show that it is possible to prevent many more women from dying. Countries need to invest in their health systems and in the quality of care.

‘Every birth should be safe and every pregnancy wanted,’ says Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the Executive Director of UNFPA. ‘The lack of maternal health care violates women’s rights to life, health, equality, and non-discrimination. MDG5 can be achieved,’ she adds, ‘but we urgently need to address the shortage of health workers and step up funding for reproductive health services’…”

More highlights from the report:

  • Ten out of 87 countries with maternal mortality ratios equal to or over 100 in 1990, are on track with an annual decline of 5.5% between 1990 and 2008. At the other extreme, 30 made insufficient or no progress since 1990.
  • The study shows progress in sub-Saharan Africa where maternal mortality decreased by 26%.
  • In Asia, the number of maternal deaths is estimated to have dropped from 315 000 to 139 000 between 1990 and 2008, a 52% decrease.
  • 99% of all maternal deaths in 2008 occurred in developing regions, with sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia accounting for 57% and 30% of all deaths respectively.

Click here to read the press release and here to read the full report.

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According to UNFPA, Timor-Leste has a maternal mortality ratio of 660 deaths/100,000 live births

IRIN Humanitarian News and Analysis

Women in rural areas have little to no information on reproductive health. Photo by David Swanson/IRIN

“According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), women in Timor-Leste – the world’s newest independent nation and also Asia’s poorest – give birth to an average 6.38 children during their lifetime, one of the highest fertility rates in the world and second only to Afghanistan.  Melinda Mousaco, the country director for Marie Stopes International Timor Leste, told IRIN that awareness of family planning and reproductive health, particularly in rural areas, is ‘next to nothing’.

‘Because of a lack of education, accidental pregnancies happen frequently,’ she said. ‘When we show basic reproductive anatomy or give information about women’s menstrual cycles, people often tell us ‘this is the first time I’ve heard this’.’

Timor-Leste gained formal independence from Indonesia in 2002 after a long separatist struggle and a surge of violence in 1999, and health experts cite conflict and unemployment as key factors in the country’s high population growth…”

Read the full story here.

For more information on UNFPA in Timor-Leste, click here.

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The Maternal Health Task Force, UNFPA and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative bring you a discussion on Human Resources for Maternal Health: Midwives, TBAs, and Task-Shifting

This event is the second in the series. It will be held tomorrow, Wednesday, January 06 2010, 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C.

Click here to RSVP this event.

If you are interested, but unable to attend the event, check out the live or archived webcast here.

Event Details

Extending the scope of responsibilities to non-physician health workers is potentially an important means to reducing maternal deaths in the developing world. While this strategy has proven to be an effective method for addressing human resource gaps in maternal health, pitfalls such as inadequate training and lack of coordination among key actors must be addressed.

Dr. Seble Frehywot, assistant research professor of health policy and global health at George Washington University, will address the motivation and methods for task sharing. Dr. Jeffrey Smith, regional technical director for Asia at Jhpiego, will discuss his field work experience developing workforce plans for midwives and traditional birth attendants, including in Afghanistan. Finally, Pape Gaye, president & CEO of IntraHealth, will discuss the importance of retention and other long-term strategies in human resources for maternal health.

About the Series

The reproductive and maternal health community finds itself at a critical point, drawing increased attention and funding, but still confronting more than a half million deaths each year and a high unmet need for family planning. The Policy Dialogue series seeks to galvanize the community by focusing on important–and in some cases controversial–issues within the maternal health community.

Did you miss the first event in this series?

Don’t worry! You can watch the webcast or read a report on the event! The first event in this series was held in December. The topic was Integrating HIV/AIDS and Maternal Health Services.

To view the archived webcast, click here. To read a report about the event, click here.

Click here to view Integration is all the Buzz, a previous post on this blog that highlights current news about integration of maternal health services and discusses Integrating HIV/AIDS and Maternal Health Services.

More info

Visit the Maternal Health Task Force website here.

Visit the UNFPA website here.

Visit the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Global Health Initiative site here.

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Voice of America

Click here to read this report on Margaret Chan’s speech regarding the current state of health in Africa. She sites progress in tackling Malaria and HIV and improvements in child health, but she expresses sadness at the lack of success in reducing maternal mortality and addressing gender-based violence.

Read the full article.

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