The maternal mortality ratio has significantly declined in Bangladesh, from 512 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1996-2000, to 3.2 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007. One of the main reasons for this is the decrease in unsafe abortion and abortion-related complications due to the wide availability of abortion services. Maternal deaths have also been reduced through improved access to contraception, skilled birth attendants, antenatal care and obstetric surgery.
Despite these gains, challenges remain for many women in Bangladesh, especially those who live in rural and hard to reach areas. Women in deprived areas are less likely to be able to afford health care and transport costs, and face more limited access to skilled health providers and medical facilities.
Professor AHM Towhidul Anowar Chowdhury, from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Bangladesh Institute of Research and Rehabilitation in Diabetes, Endocrine and Metabolic Disorders, said “to achieve MDG 5 there is a need to increase the existing skilled manpower and functioning of emergency obstetric care centres. We need to ensure quality of services and utilisation. This is especially important for women in rural areas, who face the greatest barriers and who often lack information about the danger signs during pregnancy.
“We need to speed up our efforts to reduce maternal mortality. Every day women’s lives are being lost and there is no time to waste.”
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 Professor Chowdhury, please contact the RCOG Press Office at +44 (0)20 7772 6446.