While efforts have been made to improve maternal health in Nepal, the maternal mortality ratio still stands at 281 deaths per 100,000 live births. The majority of women (81%) deliver at home, and less than 19% of births take place with the assistance of a Skilled Birth Attendant.
Key challenges include the limited number of health workers in Nepal, as well as the inadequacy of emergency obstetric care services. Women also face barriers due to costs, lack of transportation and long distances to health facilities.
Dr. Pushpa Chaudhary, from the Paropkar Maternity and Women’s Hospital in Kathmandu, said “For the first time in the history of Nepal, the new Interim Constitution has declared the state’s commitment and responsibility for people’s health. Free maternity services and a safe delivery incentive program have been launched, but it is important to ensure quality of services and regular funding to sustain the program.
“Maternal health should always be a priority. Resources must be allocated equitably, especially for rural and poor women, who are often more vulnerable and marginalised. We need donor agencies to continue to support the program and to invest more in long term solutions such as developing and establishing professional midwifery in Nepal. Women should be provided with information and education, and the media must be mobilized to highlight the high death toll due to pregnancy and childbirth.”
“Saving mothers’ and newborns’ lives remains a priority political commitment but more effort is needed to meet these challenges.”
The South Asia Day conference is taking place at the RCOG in London on Friday 3 July 2009. This event is being organised jointly by the RCOG, All India Coordinating Committee (AICC RCOG) and South Asian Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (SAFOG).
For further information or to arrange an interview with Dr. Pushpa Chaudhary, please contact the RCOG Press Office at +44 (0)20 7772 6446.