Reduction of maternal and perinatal mortality in rural and peri-urban settings: what works?

B E Kwast
European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology 1996, 69 (1): 47-53
The purpose of this article is two-fold: (i) to lay out conceptual frameworks for programming in the fields of maternal and neonatal health for the reduction of maternal and peri/neonatal mortality; (ii) to describe selected MotherCare demonstration projects in the first 5 years between 1989 and 1993 in Bolivia, Guatemala, Indonesia and Nigeria. In Inquisivi, Bolivia, Save the Children/Bolivia, worked with 50 women's groups in remote rural villages in the Andean mountains. Through a participatory research process, the 'autodiagnosis', actions identified by women's groups included among others: provision of family planning through a local non-governmental organization (NGO), training of community birth attendants, income generating projects. In Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, access was improved through training of traditional birth attendants (TBAs) in timely recognition and referral of pregnancy/delivery/neonatal complications, while quality of care in health facilities was improved through modifying health professionals' attitude towards TBAs and clients, and implementation of management protocols. In Indonesia, the University of Padjadjaran addressed issues of referral and emergency obstetric care in the West-Java subdistrict of Tanjunsari. Birthing homes with radios were established in ten of the 27 villages in the district, where trained nurse/midwives provided maternity care on a regular basis. In Nigeria professional midwives were trained in interpersonal communication and lifesaving obstetric skills, while referral hospitals were refurbished and equipped. While reduction in maternal mortality after such a short implementation period is difficult to demonstrate, all projects showed improvements in referral and in reduction in perinatal mortality.

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