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Birth Attendants Needed To Slash Maternal Deaths

Sharp Increase In Skilled Birth Attendants Needed To Slash Maternal Deaths – UN

The number of skilled attendants in developing countries needs to be increased by at least 333,000 if the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of slashing maternal deaths by two thirds by 2015 is to be achieved, according to a statement issued by the United Nations health agency and other experts today.

“Life-threatening complications occur in 15 per cent of all births," said Joy Phumaphi, Assistant Director-General of Family and Community Health at the UN World Health Organization WHO).

"For a mother and her newborn, a skilled birth attendant can make the difference between life and death. Not only can they recognize and prevent medical crises on the spot, but they can refer women for life-saving care when complications arise," she added.

The statement, issued jointly WHO, the International Federation of Gynaecologists (FIGO) and the International Confederation of Midwives (ICM), urges the international community, professional associations and donors to make proper care for all pregnant women and their newborns a priority - focusing on increasing the number of skilled birth attendants, strengthening their capacity and increasing the resources available to them.

The three organizations call for better monitoring and reporting on progress in achieving the MDG target of increasing the proportion of births attended by a skilled attendant to 90 per cent by 2015.

The shortfall is most acute in the developing world. In developed countries and countries in transition, the average rate is above 90 per cent. The lowest levels are in Eastern Africa (33.6 per cent), South-Central Asia (37.5 per cent) and Western Africa (39.6 per cent), with much higher levels in South America (84.8 per cent). Globally, only 61 per cent of all childbirths are attended by a skilled birth attendant.

The reduction in maternal deaths is one of eight ambitious goals set by the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, all to be achieved by 2015.

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