How has Nepal dramatically reduced maternal death – and can their policy be replicated?
Nepal has managed a record achievement for its maternal mortality rates. Between 1991 and 2011, it has seen an 80% decline in the number of women dying in pregnancy, during labour and after childbirth - meaning it is one of the few countries on track to achieve the fifth Millennial Development Goal. The foundation of their achievement comes from an outstanding women’s volunteer programme known as the Female Community Health Volunteers. Currently over 50, 000 women volunteer to distribute life-saving advice and tools to mothers across the country. They administer vaccinations, contraceptives and ensure women understand the importance of self-care in pregnancy. Moreover, Nepal’s government have created a financial incentive programme to ensure women stop giving birth at home, and instead under the guidance and supervision of health professionals in local hospitals.
However, these achievements may be undermined by entrenched problems that lie deep in Nepal’s health and social welfare. Alongside, superstitions and dangerous social customs that have been passed down the generations – Nepal’s alarming rate of child marriages may stop the panel from selecting this policy for their perfect country.
(Photo: A Nepalese resident carries a child through a relief camp for earthquake survivors in Kathmandu. Credit: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP)