6 Improve maternal health

Where we are?

Photo: Nauru Department of Health.

While the maternal mortality ratio in the Pacific is well below the global average set on 110 per 10,000 lives births, performance towards the overall target of a reduction by two-thirds has been mixed across the region. According to available data the maternal mortality ratio in FSM were 224 in 1994 and went down to 39 in 2009, displaying a remarkable improvement. Furthermore, in Tonga the rate plunged from 205 in 1994 to 37 in 2009. Solomon Islands and Vanuatu have both reported significant improvements. The maternal mortality ratio in the Solomon Islands declined from 130 in the early 1990s to 100 in a decline of about 23%; in Vanuatu the rate reportedly fell from 96 in 1998 to 89 in 2004. Fiji too reported a decline in its maternal mortality ratio from 60 in 1994 to 22.6 in 2010, a decline of almost 60%. On the other hand, in Kiribati the rate rose from 110 in 1991 to 215 in 2004.

Countries have begun drafting and implementation of National Reproductive Health Policies and Strategies with plans of action on maternal health and neonatal mortality reduction (for the period 2005-2010), and have initiated strengthening in the health information systems for maternal and child care services. The Pacific Island countries have also recently agreed to a Pacific Policy Framework for Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services and Commodities to improve PICs access to quality services, contraceptives and other essential commodities.

Source: 2010 MDGs Pacific Regional Tracking Report.

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