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Indonesia to miss maternal mortality target

Number of birth-related fatalities is up, says UN

Indonesia to miss maternal mortality target

National Population and Family Planning Board chairman Fasli Jalal

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

April 2, 2014

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Indonesia has failed to reduce its maternal mortality rate, making it impossible for the country to achieve its Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to cut the number of childbirth related deaths by more than half, the UN says.

The level of maternal mortality in Indonesia has in fact increased from 228 deaths per 100,000 births in 2000 to 359 deaths in 2012, according to a report released on Tuesday by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPFA) and Indonesia’s National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN).

“This means that Indonesia will not meet its MDG target of 102 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015”, the report said.

It highlighted a lack of skilled midwives and poor medical facilities, especially in remote areas, as major factors.

“The poor quality of services and inequitable access to care are major challenges, as these are important determinants of health outcomes,” the report said.

It also said the poor performance of government at a local level was a major concern and may be contributing to setbacks in maternal healthcare.

Indonesia needs to work hard to tackle the problem, said UNPFA country representative Jose Ferraris.

“It will require greater cooperation between central and local governments," he said.

BKKBN chief Fasli Jalal agreed, saying lack of cooperation between central and local governments contributed to the increase.

There was a higher degree of coordination and cooperation between central and local government on healthcare issues before greater regional autonomy was introduced in 2000, Jalal explained.

“Since then local governments have had to handle these issues themselves, and not all of them care,” he said.

The Ministry of Health in Jakarta, while acknowledging that the number of fatalities was unacceptable, said it hopes to see a significant reduction following the introduction of several healthcare schemes to address the issue.

"The government is trying to improve midwife training and health facilities in each region, as well as hospital services," said Anung Sugihantono, director general of the Health Ministry’s Nutrition and Maternal and Child Health department.

"We are also working to improve nutrition for mothers, premarital counseling and cooperation with other parties, such as religious leaders in order to increase awareness about healthcare issues for pregnant women."

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