6 Improve maternal health

Where we are?

Women and children of Uzorong, a remote village community in Eastern Bhutan. Photo Sonam Tsoki Tenzin @UNDP Bhutan

Bhutan has reduced maternal mortality rates (MMR) by about nearly three-quarters between 1990 and 2012 from 560 in 1990 to 155 in 2012.  There are indications that with vastly improved access to critical reproductive health services including antenatal care, and the establishment of numerous emergency obstetric care centers, Bhutan is well on track to achieve the MDG target of reducing maternal mortality to below 140 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

Most maternal deaths are due to post-partum hemorrhage occurring either at home or because women arrive too late at hospitals which necessitates easy access to emergency obstetric care services.  Work needs to be done in ensuring health personnel attend all births, with a goal of achieving 100% attendance by 2015.  While significant progress has been made from just 19% in 1990 to 69% in 2012, there is still quite a lot of ground to cover here, especially in rural and remote areas.

Targets for MDG 5
  1. Reduce by three quarters the maternal mortality ratio
    • Most maternal deaths could be avoided
    • Giving birth is especially risky in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, where most women deliver without skilled care
    • The rural-urban gap in skilled care during childbirth has narrowed
  2. Achieve universal access to reproductive health & inadequate funding for family planning is a major failure in fulfilling commitments to improving women’s reproductive health
    • More women are receiving antenatal care
    • Inequalities in care during pregnancy are striking
    • Only one in three rural women in developing regions receive the recommended care during pregnancy
    • Progress has stalled in reducing the number of teenage pregnancies, putting more young mothers at risk
    • Poverty and lack of education perpetuate high adolescent birth rates
    • Progress in expanding the use of contraceptives by women has slowed & use of contraception is lowest among the poorest women and those with no education