UNFPAState of World Population 2004
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HOME: STATE OF WORLD POPULATION 2004: Maternal Health
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Maternal Health

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

Antenatal Care

Although an exclusive focus on care during pregnancy has not been shown to have a direct impact on maternal mortality, antenatal care provides an important entry point for women to the health care system. It presents an opportunity to assess the future mother’s overall condition, diagnose and treat infections, screen for anaemia and HIV/AIDS, enrol women in programmes to prevent transmission of HIV to infants, and prevent low birth weight. Women who get antenatal care are also more likely to have a skilled attendant present during childbirth.

PROGRESS AND NEEDED SERVICE LINKS. Some progress has been made in expanding rates of antenatal coverage since the ICPD. According to a recent report from WHO and UNICEF, the number of pregnant women receiving antenatal care from a skilled health provider has grown 20 per cent since 1990. The greatest increase, 31 per cent, has been in Asia, while the number of women getting antenatal care in sub- Saharan Africa has grown just 4 per cent.

More than half of all women in the developing world now receive at least four antenatal visits during pregnancy (the number recommended by WHO), although those with less education are vastly underrepresented. Women with secondary schooling are two to three times more likely to receive antenatal care as women with no education. Poor women, too, are far less likely to receive antenatal care, as with all health services.(32)

While good quality antenatal care can improve women’s health in the period immediately before and after birth, it does not have a significant impact on maternal death risks unless it is linked with delivery care.(33) Many countries are tying expansions in antenatal care with other safe motherhood services. For example, Mongolia, with its great distances and harsh weather, has created 316 maternal rest homes where women herders can stay and receive essential care during the weeks before delivery.(34)

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