arrow for change – health systems and women’s rights: key elements in effectively averting maternal death and disability


Every day, thousands of women die from pregnancy and childbirth in Asia and the Pacific. 75% of these deaths are from complications directly associated with the process of pregnancy and childbirth, i.e. direct maternal death, such as from bleeding, hypertension-with-convulsion, infection, and unsafe abortion. The rest are from the aggravation of the maternal state by concomitant medical conditions, i.e. indirect maternal death, such as malaria, TB, malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS.

Of the total 529,000 deaths estimated in 2000, 253,000 are attributed to Asia. The chance of dying in pregnancy and childbirth is especially high in Nepal, Timor-Leste, Lao PDR, India, Pakistan, and Cambodia. Many of the women who die are poor, from minority groups, not well educated, and unable to fight for their own survival. They embrace the notion that harm and death are inextricable parts of pregnancy and birth.

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Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women