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Saving Asia’s Mothers

With all the talk about the impending “Asian century,” one might imagine that the region had moved beyond what are often viewed as poor-country health challenges, like high rates of maternal mortality. The reality is very different.

BANGKOK – With all the talk about the impending “Asian century,” one might imagine that the region had moved beyond what are often viewed as poor-country health challenges, like high rates of maternal mortality. The reality is very different.

In 2015, an estimated 85,000 women died of complications related to pregnancy and childbirth across the Asia-Pacific region – 28% of the global total. Up to 90% of those deaths, which were concentrated in just 12 countries, could have been prevented through quality antenatal, obstetric, and perinatal care.

In the absence of such care, the average maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the Asia-Pacific region is extremely high: 127 per 100,000 live births, compared to the developed-country average of 12 per 100,000. The 12 countries with the highest MMRs, exceeding 100 deaths per 100,000 live births, are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Timor-Leste.

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