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In Brazil, Maternal Mortality Still 74 for 100,000 Births

The high rate of maternal mortality in Brazil is of concern to the World
Health Organization. At the moment, for every 100,000 births in the country, a
total of 74 women die.

Among the causes for such deaths are hypertension, bleeding during birth, infections and abortions. In Brazil prenatal care is now considered good, but the quality of medical services leaves much to be desired.


According to Maria José Araújo at the Ministry of Health, the goal is to reduce the maternal mortality rate by 15% between now and 2007. That will require investments at the state and local levels in training of personnel.


The representative of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Maternal Health program, Enrique Ezcurra, affirmed that the National Mortality Reduction Pact is correct to include Brazilian society in all the stages of its preparation.


“The concentrated effort was what impressed me the most,” he said.


Ezcurra participated, October 28, in the debate, “The Reduction of Maternal Mortality: A Challenge,” at the headquarters of the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO), in Brasí­lia, Brazil’s capital city.


The federal government’s plan was launched in March and includes an administrative pact with states and municipalities, which should receive financial support and investment in the training of professionals.


According to Maria José Araújo, coordinator of the Ministry of Health’s technical area for health, the federal government is already assisting 78 small, medium, and large municipalities with high indices of maternal deaths, cesarean births, and deaths of infants less than 28 days old.


“At this moment, there is a training program underway for staff members from 14 maternity hospitals in the South, Southeast, and Center-West, as well as the chief directors, to improve the care given to expectant mothers and newborns. During the week of November 22-26, professionals from maternity hospitals in the North and Northeast of Brazil will be trained,” she said.


Approximately 530 thousand women die each year throughout the world from maternity-related causes, such as hypertension, hemorrhage, abortion, and infection. At least 90% of them live in poor regions, according to Ezcurra.


The WHO representative said that to change this picture, the theme must become a political priority. He cites as examples the indices presented by Brazil and Cuba.


Whereas in Brazil 74 women die for each 100 thousand babies born alive, in Cuba the number of deaths is 24. In comparison, the US still has 12 deaths per 100,000


“For 30 years Cuba has been taking steps, giving priority to health, setting a remarkable example. The labor force in this field is trained, and at least 99% of births are performed by specialists,” he explains.


The lack of qualified care is, according to him, one of the chief causes of death. Ezcurra affirms that 90% of the maternal deaths around the world occur in Africa, because it is a continent with “little economic development, few qualified medical personnel, and problems with its infrastructure.”


Agência Brasil
Translator: David Silberstein

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