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How can Laos’ high maternal mortality rate be reduced?

Although the maternal death rate dropped by 78 percent between 1990 and 2015, the number remains high
at 185 maternal deaths per 100,000 compared to Europe, where a woman’s risk of death is one in 3,400. Vientiane Times asked for people’s views on what could be done to ensure that more mothers survive pregnancy and childbirth.

 

Ms Phaisith, a resident of Xaythany district: I think it is quite difficult to bring the numbers down because there are many factors involved. Many women can’t get the healthcare they need because of geographic remoteness, lack of roads or bad roads, and lack of transport. All of these prevent women from getting the care they need during pregnancy and after giving birth. If the government can solve or ease these problems, I’m sure the maternal mortality rate will drop. 

Ms Deuan Malaivanh, a resident of Luang Namtha province: I’m not sure what the reasons for death during pregnancy are. But I do feel that women need to be better educated about health issues, both during pregnancy and after giving birth, and all mothers should have more information about the best ways to care for their health during pregnancy.  Even though doctors give advice about the care of mothers and the baby they are carrying, it is often not followed. I’ve seen many mothers still practice the traditional and outdated beliefs that have been handed down from generation to generation. This is something that Lao women have always done, and it’s a huge challenge to change these practices. Women definitely need to be better informed about health issues. And pregnant women should have better access to healthcare so they don’t fall ill or die unnecessarily.  

Dr Khamphoua Soutthisombat, Director General of the Department of Healthcare and Rehabilitation, Ministry of Health: There are many reasons why women die during pregnancy and childbirth. Most deaths result from complications that arise. Most pregnancies occur in women under the age of 25 and it’s common for girls under the age of 19 to get married, which means that the maternal mortality rate among those under the age of 18 is high. There are also other challenges, especially in relation to the quality of care provided, equipment and available drugs. The Ministry of Health will continue to partner with international organisations and national partners in the areas of family planning and skilled birth attendance to meet the government’s commitments and leave no woman or girl behind.

Mr Pao, a resident of Vientiane: In order to improve the situation, there are many things that the authorities need to address urgently, especially improving the knowledge and skills of the personnel involved in prenatal care as well as the overall improvement of health services. We all know that lots of women travel outside the country to have a baby. Even though this is expensive, they want to feel confident and be assured of good service. I urge all mothers to take good care of their health before and after pregnancy to prevent any problems. We can all learn more about healthcare by talking to doctors or getting information online. 
 
Ms Thipphakone Vorachak, an employee in Xaythany district, Vientiane: I think there are several reasons why the mortality rate is so high. Too many women become pregnant at a young age or have unintended pregnancies. Many women in remote areas also work hard during pregnancy and don’t have access to proper healthcare and don’t understand the importance of good nutrition, which affects the health of the mother and the fetus. If we want to reduce the mortality rate, health workers need to provide more information about hygiene and ensure that all mothers and children can access health services.

 

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update April 8, 2021)


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