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Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2009 Apr;105(1):82-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ijgo.2008.12.021. Epub 2009 Feb 20.

Reducing maternal mortality among Afghan refugees in Pakistan.

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The International Rescue Committee, New York, USA.



The International Rescue Committee (IRC) strove to reduce maternal mortality among Afghan refugees in Hangu district of Pakistan by improving access to emergency obstetric care (EmOC), community knowledge of danger signs of pregnancy, and the use of health information.


IRC established EmOC centers, trained community members on safe motherhood, linked primary health care with education on danger signs of pregnancy and the importance of skilled attendance, and improved the health information system.


The maternal mortality ratio among Afghan refugees in the area improved from 291 per 100000 live births in 2000 to 102 per 100000 live births in 2004. The proportion of refugee births attended by skilled staff increased from 5% in 1996 to 67% in 2007. Complete prenatal care coverage increased from 49% in 2000 to 90% in 2006, and postnatal coverage more than trebled from 27% in 2000 to 85% in 2006.


Improved services, community involvement and education, good coordination, and effective systems succeeded in reducing maternal mortality in a traditionally conservative environment.

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