Maternal death claims 1:5
A report has found that an average of 2800 women in Myanmar die annually due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, the secondhighest rate in ASEAN.
NEARLY 3000 Myanmar women die annually due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth, according to a Ministry of Labour, Immigration and Population report launched yesterday based on data from the 2014 census.
The “Thematic Report on Maternal Mortality” found that such a fate befalls an average of 2800 expecting mothers each year, with one in five deaths among young women due to maternal health complications.
U Myint Kyaing, permanent secretary for the ministry, said at a report launch event that the maternal mortality rate amounted to 282 women per 100,000 live births at the Union level, the second-highest in ASEAN.
“This is why we need to make a survey on maternal mortality – to know why the rate is high,” he said.
Every day, about eight women in Myanmar die from preventable causes related to pregnancy, childbirth and post-natal care in the early weeks following delivery, according to the report.
About 10 percent of female deaths among women of reproductive age – defined as 15-49 years old – are related to maternal health.
Regionally, the maternal mortality rate declined 69pc between 1990 and 2015 in Southeast Asia.
The most important factors contributing to high maternal mortality are isolation and deprivation. Maternal mortality is higher among poor and uneducated women, who have a more limited ability to recognise pregnancy complications and to access care.
The report noted that maternal mortality rates differ between Myanmar’s states and regions, as well being significantly lower in urban areas and for women giving birth in a healthcare facility that can provide basic and emergency obstetric care. Most maternal deaths are caused by treatable conditions such as bleeding or infection.
“The difference will persist between villages and urban. The best way [to lower maternal mortality rates] is to raise awareness using not only doctors but also nurses and midwives. Secondary educating, from one person to another, is also important,” said Dr Soe Lwin, an obstetrics and gynaecology specialist.
Janet E Jackson, country representative for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), said a significant decline in maternal mortality rates could be achieved if more women had the choice of giving birth to fewer children.
“Each maternal death is a tragedy. Each maternal death has a story to tell. This is the tool that will ensure that every maternal death is counted. Once we know the true magnitude of maternal mortality and its causes, the Myanmar health system will be more able to employ practical ways to address its causes,” Ms Jackson said in a statement.
Health experts said greater public knowledge about reproductive health, including the importance of birth-spacing, is needed to lower Myanmar’s maternal mortality rate.
In addition to women with high childbirth frequencies, other demographics at particular risk are very young women, whose bodies are not ready for childbirth, and women over 40. Women over 45 are four times more likely to die in childbirth, but age itself is not the only factor.
The report says that “maternal healthcare services are not reaching all the population groups that they should: Women with limited education, in low-income families and living in poor communities are more likely to be marginalised from accessing and receiving basic and emergency obstetric care”.
The report calls for policies and interventions that support safer conditions for motherhood, especially in deprived communities and in remote areas.
“Most of the women from the remote areas don’t know about reproductive health,” said Dr Myint Zaw, project coordinator of the reproductive healthcare program for the Myanmar Medical Association.
According to the report, maternal mortality rates are highest in Chin State, and Ayeyarwady and Magwe regions, and lowest in Tanintharyi Region, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon Region.
MYINT KAY THI
PYAE THET PHYO