Mother and Child Health

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Grass-roots level studies have demonstrated how severe the combined effects of early motherhood, poor hygiene practices, lack of awareness of basic nutrition and poor pre-natal, postnatal and early childhood care can be on a growing and developing nation. In addition, chronic lack of medicines, medical equipment and clinical skills dissuades women from seeking care for themselves or their children.

While Lao PDR has made signifi cant strides in recent years to reduce infant mortality and the number of women dying from childbirth, the country is still among the poorest in the region.

Today, many women continue to be vulnerable to serious health issues such as nutritional defi ciencies, and malaria. Women are especially in danger during child birth. Almost 89% of rural women deliver unattended by a health provider, usually due to the diffi culty in accessing health services and the very poor quality of care that is available to those who do have access. In 2000, the maternal mortality ratio was 530 deaths per 100,000 live births. Maternal mortality in remote areas is often due to relatively minor complications which could be easily addressed if care was available.

Children who survive birth are also exposed to considerable risk. Isolation, transport restrictions and logistical challenges, hamper the work of the district mobile teams in administering regular immunization services. The infant mortality rate under age fi ve in Lao PDR is an alarming 98 out of 1000 live births. The rates are even higher in rural areas and remote provinces as compared to urban areas. Most of those children are dying from communicable diseases such as malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, dengue fever, measles, or meningitis.