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Maternal Mortality In Eastern Europe

Maternal Mortality In Eastern Europe, Central Asia Halved But Still High – UN Report

New York, Nov 12 2009 12:10PM The number of women in Eastern Europe and Central Asia dying from complications in childbirth and pregnancy has been slashed by more than half over the last 10 years, participants at a high-level United Nations gathering in Istanbul heard today.

Despite cutting maternal mortality rates from 51 per 100,000 live births to 24, a recent UN Population Fund (UNFPA) progress report noted that many women in vulnerable groups remain at risk.

In response, decision-makers and government officials from 20 countries attending the UNFPA meeting in Istanbul pledged to step up the fight against needless deaths and suffering resulting from pregnancy and childbirth.

“Women who are poor, young, migrants, refugees and those living in remote rural areas do not have sufficient access to much-needed sexual and reproductive health services,” UNFPA Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia Thea Fierens told delegates at the opening of the two-day meeting on maternal health and universal access to reproductive health.

In a statement of commitment issued late last night, delegates at the meeting recognized that investment in the health and rights of women is “smart” economics and that family planning is one of the most cost-effective investments in reducing the maternal deaths that continue to affect the region.

The UNFPA report said that in the last 15 years, the number of induced abortions has dropped from 1,049 per 1,000 live births to 493, and contraceptive use by women has increased, yet the region still has one of the highest abortion rates in the world.

The report noted that in many countries in the region, there is limited access to modern contraception and other reproductive health products. In addition, the quality of antenatal coverage and skilled birth assistance varies widely depending on whether women live in rural areas, their level of education, their age or socio-economic status.

“Investing in access to voluntary family planning and modern contraception is one of the most cost-effective ways for countries to make progress,” said Ms. Fierens. “Proper access to contraceptives not only saves lives, reduces the number of abortions and promotes equality, it is also a cost-effective investment and sound economics.”


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