Reducing maternal deaths: evidence and action: a strategy for DFID

Reducing maternal deaths: evidence and action: a strategy for DFID

DFID’s maternal health strategy supports women’s right to skilled care

This paper from the UK Department for International Development (DFID) outlines its strategy for reducing maternal mortality in developing countries. It asserts that previous approaches focusing on antenatal care and widespread training of traditional birth attendants have been broadly unsuccessful. It emphasises that every pregnancy carries risks, with approximately 15 per cent of women suffering one of the five major complications. Although such complications cannot usually be predicted, the paper argues that almost all maternal deaths can be prevented through ensuring access to skilled attendance at birth and effective emergency obstetric care where needed.

Key recommendations include: providing accessible family planning services to ensure optimal birth spacing and prevent unwanted pregnancy, particularly in very young women; providing safe abortion services, where legal; ensuring that effective post-abortion care is a part of routine services in all settings; and ensuring timely access to a skilled health worker for treatment of complications, backed up by a functioning referral system. The paper highlights lack of political commitment as a key obstacle to reducing maternal mortality. It states DFID’s commitment to working with governments to prioritise maternal health in national plans, and to support women’s right to maternal health through ensuring access to appropriate care. [adapted from author]

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