Kathmandu, July 24
Nepal has become the topmost country in the entire South Asia region in terms of the number of expectant mothers choosing delivery in health facilities.
Nepal, which has been a member of the Global White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood since 2009, took significant strides in the mother and child care campaign after the government accorded high priority to these programmes, making sure that many pregnant women benefited from modern delivery facilities and available maternity services.
According to Secretary at the Ministry of Health Prof Kiran Regmi, around 60 per cent pregnant women have been recorded to have availed safe delivery and maternity services from birthing centres.
Regmi noted that the percentage is the highest benchmark among other countries in the South Asia Region.
The Ministry has been providing free services in reproductive health care, including uterine prolapse.
The maternal mortality rate in Nepal has fallen to 134 per 100,000 pregnant women and new mothers, while the child mortality rate stands at 21 per 1,000 live births.
The ministry is currently implementing an ambitious programme to reduce maternity mortality to 90 and infant mortality rate to nil.
Meanwhile, worldwide discussions have started on the initiatives taken by Nepal to reduce child and maternal mortality rates.
A four-day global meeting on Safe Motherhood organised by Safe Motherhood Network Federation of Nepal began here today.
Representatives of 16 countries including from South Asia are participating in the meeting. Representatives of the countries associated with Global White Ribbon Alliance for Safe Motherhood, an international organisation established for safe motherhood, will review the programmes related to safe motherhood run in their respective countries in the meeting.
Inaugurating the meeting, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba said that the constitution has guaranteed quality health services as a fundamental right.
He expressed the belief that it would bring remarkable improvement in access of general people to healthcare services.
Saying that programmes launched by the government were focused on achieving sustainable development goals related to health, the prime minister said that the health ministry had primarily paid attention to achieve the goals related to safe motherhood.
The PM added, “Rural women in Nepal still have less access to safe motherhood and this problem must be addressed collectively to control maternal deaths and child mortality in the country.”
Giving his views about the political developments in the country, he said the two rounds of local-level elections concluded recently proved a milestone in the empowerment of women, he said he was hopeful that such empowerment would help improve women’s economic, social and political status at the grassroots level while guaranteeing safe motherhood.
He was for connecting safe motherhood programmes to safe health system while carrying out restructuring of health sector at the local-level.
Health Ministry Secretary Regmi said the ministry was focused on achieving sustainable development goals relating to safe motherhood.
SMNF President Arzu Rana Deuba said though Nepal of late witnessed a remarkable progress in the area of safe motherhood, the status of rural women had not changed much. On the occasion, she took the opportunity to demand that the government pass a bill relating to safe motherhood.
SMNF Vice-President Bishnu Raj Nepal said participating countries and WHO representatives in the meeting would share work experiences related to safe motherhood while preparing a future work strategy.
The SMNF was established in 1996. It has worked on planning and implementing awareness and advocacy programmes related to safe motherhood and proper care of newborn babies.
A version of this article appears in print on July 25, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.
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