Bali’s Maternal Mortality Rate Still High

DENPASAR

While Bali is not regarded as a disadvantaged province, access to basic healthcare remains a problem, as shown by the island’s high maternal mortality rate.

The province recorded that 84 mothers died per 100,000 deliveries in 2011, up more than 47 percent from 57 deaths in 2010.

While the administration has made progress – the provincial maternal mortality rate for the first ten months of the year is 51 – it is unlikely that it will meet its target of 55 deaths for 2012.

Bali Health Agency chief Ketut Suarjaya said that most maternal deaths on Bali were recorded in remote areas and were attributed to late treatment of bleeding during delivery.

Meanwhile, the relatively high provincial infant mortality rate was attributed to insufficient birth weight.

“It’s not easy to assign medical workers and midwives in remote villages Suarjaya said.

“Many of them soon ask to be transferred. However, we are still prioritizing to assign more midwives to remote areas this year. This time, we will assign midwives to their respective villages of origin,” Suarjaya, who is a physician, said.

He made his comments at an event to commemorate National Health Day in Denpasar. This year’s observance is focused on maternal and infant health. The event was given the motto ibu selamat, anak sehat, or prosperous mom, healthy child. Suarjaya said that villages in the remote regencies of Karangasem, Buleleng, and Bangli still had difficulties in providing accessible healthcare to mothers and children.

“The administrations of the regencies must provide allowances for the midwives that are assigned to remote places that are geographically challenged. However, the Bali administration has not provided such incentives,” Suarjaya said.

There is some good news, however: Bali’s infant malnutrition rate stands at 10 percent, less than the national target of 15 percent, which is the same target set by the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) for 2015.

The leading cause of infant malnutrition was a general ignorance on the need to exclusively breast-feed newborns, Suarjaya said.

“There are still many healthcare facilities that give formula baby milk to newborns. That’s wrong,” said Suarjaya.

Suarjaya said the agency had conducted several inspections of hospitals and community healthcare centers (Puskesmas) and had found no evidence at the facilities of promotional activities directed at mothers promoting baby formula use.

The Bali Care for ASI community formed in Denpasar last year to promote exclusively breast-feeding infants under six months in age. The group comprises young mothers and doctors.

Among its founders is I Putu Oka Dharmawan, a physician at a maternity hospital in Denpasar, who said that he has seen mothers refuse to breast-feed their newborns.

Dharmawan said that doctors, midwives, families and parents all had to be aware of the importance of breast-feeding.

“Some mothers refuse to feed their babies with breast milk for various reasons, among them is that because the babies already fed with formula milk instead,” Dharmawan said.

“It’s important that mothers are able to say ‘no’ to nurses who promote formula milk for their babies,” Oka said.

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