UNFPAState of World Population 2004
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State of World Population
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Maternal Health

New Approaches
Causes and Consequences
Maternal Morbidity
Obstetric Fistula
Reducing Maternal Mortality and Morbidity
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Holistic Responses
Antenatal Care
Skilled Attendance
Emergency Obstetric Care
Post-abortion Care
Quality of Maternal Health
Men and Maternal Health
UNFPA and Safe Motherhood

UNFPA and Safe Motherhood

To reduce maternal deaths and ill-health, UNFPA supports a range of activities in developing countries,(74) taking into consideration poverty reduction, governance, economic and social development and health system reform.

NEEDS ASSESSMENTS. Working with the Averting Maternal Death and Disability (AMDD) programme managed by Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNFPA has conducted needs assessments in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, India, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, the Niger and Senegal, among others.

In Nicaragua, the assessment of 125 facilities led to a range of improvements in three health regions: physical upgrades, publication of standards and protocols for care, staff training and efforts to improve service quality. Between 2000 and 2003, the proportion of women with complications receiving emergency care in these regions rose by one third.(75)


Following civil war and natural disaster, the health care system in Mozambique’s Sofala Province was in shambles, with little capacity to provide emergency care to pregnant women. The UNFPA/AMDD initiative supported training of medical staff and provided the provincial hospital and peripheral health facilities with medications, supplies and equipment. As a result, the number of women with complications who received appropriate care nearly doubled. Thanks to collaborative funding from other donors, the project will be extended to nine other provinces and will soon cover the entire country.

TRAINING. Training of doctors, nurses, midwives and anaesthetists in emergency obstetric care and postabortion care is ongoing in all regions, along with training of service providers in record keeping and data collection. Health personnel have been trained to evaluate maternal deaths and complications. The Fund has also developed technical materials, a distance learning course and an Emergency Obstetric Care Checklist for planners.

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT. UNFPA has upgraded facilities and built new ones, provided equipment and supplies, and procured ambulances and radio communications.

In Rajasthan, India, with support from the UNFPA/AMDD initiative, 83 emergency obstetric care facilities were upgraded, covering a population of approximately 13 million people. Fifty-nine teams of health professionals were trained to provide emergency obstetric care; 12 were trained in infection prevention. Management information systems were introduced to improve monitoring and evaluation of services. In 2003, local television stations and newspapers started airing programmes related to safe motherhood. As a result of these efforts, the number of women treated for obstetric complications has increased 50 per cent in four years, and India has introduced similar interventions in other states.(76)

POLICY AND ADVOCACY. UNFPA, along with UNICEF and WHO, organized Vision 2010 to spotlight maternal and neonatal mortality in Central and West Africa, and initiated the Forum for Maternal Mortality reduction in Latin America with the Pan-American Health Organization. The Fund has worked with health ministries to develop emergency obstetric care guidelines and protocols, national safe motherhood policies and routine monitoring of referral systems.

COMMUNITY MOBILIZATION. The Fund trains volunteers and health promoters to educate communities about safe motherhood services and family planning and encourages community-sponsored transportation schemes.

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