Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Bhutan : Bhutan’s record pretty dismal

16 June, 2009 - Status of Maternal and Child Health Report At least three women die every month on an average in Bhutan from pregnancy related complications (maternal death), according to the public health’s status of maternal and child health report.

The status report was presented yesterday by the public health director, Dr Ugen Dophu, during the launch of UNICEF’s “State of the World’s Children 2009,” report.

Excessive bleeding after delivery or post-partum haemorrhage (PPH) is the main cause, which accounts for 55 percent of deaths.

Dr Ugen Dophu said that home delivery was the main reason for maternal deaths in Bhutan. “Although Bhutanese are aware, only about 50 percent come to health facilities for deliveries,” he said. “In some areas, it’s also due to quality of heath services.”

Maternal death is more common in the southern and eastern districts.

In newborns, blood infection or sepsis causes 34 percent of deaths in Bhutan. Fifty percent of maternal deaths in Bhutan occur during the first 24 hours after delivery, while in newborns, it’s in the first one-week.

“The first 24 hours is the crucial period where the placenta needs to come out. It can cause death if that doesn’t happen,” said the public health director. “Week-old newborns die because they’re premature, don’t get adequate feeding and are more susceptible to infection.”

The UNICEF’s report ranks Bhutan 45th among 198 countries in under-five mortality rate, the highest in the region after Afghanistan. India is at 49, Nepal 62, Sri Lanka 110, Bangladesh 58 and Maldives 88.

Dysentery, diarrhoea and pneumonia still top the causes for death in children under five in Bhutan.

“The state of the world’s children is intimately linked with the state of the world’s mothers,” said the education minister Lyonpo Thakur Singh Powdyal in his address.

The report states that, globally, women in the world’s least developed countries are 300 times more likely to die in childbirth or from pregnancy-related complications than those in the developed world. “A child born in a developing country is almost 14 times more likely to die during the first month than a child born in a developed one.”

About 99 percent of all global deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth occur in developing countries, said the UNICEF representative, Dr Gepke Hingst, in her presentation.

To lower maternal and infant mortality, the report recommends creating a supportive environment for women and children through education, empowerment, respecting their rights, investing in maternal health and protecting them against violence and abuse.

The education minister said that the wellbeing of the mother and child is the wellbeing of a family, an index of the health of our world. “The report that we launched today is more importantly on the state of our world.”

Members of the national council, who were present during the launch, were also briefed by the national commission for women and children (NCWC) on the conventions on the rights of the child (CRC), elimination of all forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) and gender.

By Sonam Pelden


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