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Popul Sci. 1990 Jul;9:63-8.

Maternal mortality in the Islamic countries of the Eastern Mediterranean Region of WHO.



Maternal mortality in Islamic countries is high. Some reasons for high maternal mortality here include low average age of marriage, illiteracy, lack of prenatal care, and obstetric complications. In at least 3 Islamic countries it stands 50/10,000, but ranges from 20-49 in most Islamic countries. These figures are based on only a few studies in hospitals, however. In fact, 70-90% of deliveries do not take place in hospitals, particularly in rural areas. Moreover, traditional birth attendants (TBAs) deliver most infants. In addition, poor health information systems exist. WHO's Regional Office of the Eastern Mediterranean promotes maternal health projects designed to reduce maternal mortality. Specifically, it supports scientific inquiries into maternal deaths which can include talking to husbands about wives' deaths or having TBAs record infant and maternal events. WHO promotes self care by having mothers complete record cards. These cards are used in Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, Syria, and Somalia. It also encourages maternal and child health/family planning (MCH/FP) programs to adopt a risk approach to expedite early referral care of high risk pregnant females. In fact, WHO sponsors workshops on risk approach in MCH/FP for physicians. It also fosters improvement of managerial and technical skills. WHO collaborates with medical, nursing, and paramedical schools in curriculum development for training students in MCH/FP. Similarly, it provides training for practicing obstetricians. Further, it promotes training of TBAs. WHO encourages each country to monitor and evaluate MCH/FP activities, to conduct health system research, and address unmet needs in maternal care. In conclusion, education is needed to dispel harmful traditional practices and countries should increase the role of the media to inform the public.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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