The maternal mortality in Azerbaijan is unacceptably high and very likely is rising. In 1994 the rate of maternal mortality was 44.6 death for 100,000 births. This was already 5 times worse than the average in Europe1. Between 2000 and 2006 in rate of maternal mortality had risen to 94/100,000234

What has given rise to the increase in maternal mortality? Several factors appear to be to blame. As of 2004 there had not been a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health program5. By 2009 it appears that one had been adopted, but the UN committee who reviewed the document felt that while it was commendable that they had now developed a plan, its implementation was severely hampered by limited access to health care programs in general. These programs are not particularly expensive and represent a matter of governmental priority.

Access is particularly limited in rural and remote areas and especially for internally displaced populations of refugee women. Also contributing to the rising maternal mortality was a “steep decrease in the use of contraceptives”6 It would appear that this decrease in access, and use, of contraceptives like condoms is correlated with changes in United States and international policies in 2004 to suspend contraceptive supplies. When access to contraceptives was essentially eliminated, this trend collided with cultural perceptions of family size and economics in disastrous ways for maternal mortality.

The current trend in Azerbaijan is to have only 2 children. 80% of women with 2 children indicated that did not desire any more. This population trend combined with abortion as the only available contraception has led to the increase in maternal mortality. 21% of all abortions, even those performed in medical facilities, have severe complications and have resulted in the rapid rise in maternal mortality7. With abortion as the primary means of contraceptive means in the country this trend is likely to continue and become worse8

Also of grave concern is that the UN committee noted that Azerbaijan does not use the official definition of maternal mortality as recommended by the World Health Organization and therefore is very likely to be under-reporting its numbers9.


 

  1. UN, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) –  http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/ – Reports may be accessed at http://www.bayefsky.com 1996 4
  2. UN Statistical Database – http://unstats.un.org/unsd/default.htm 2000
  3. UNFPA – State of the World Population 2006 – A Passage to Hope – Women and International Migration – 2006 –  p94-96
  4. One sourced reported a figure of 74/100,000 but this was the only one at that rate so it would appear that the real maternal mortality rate remains at 94/100,000. See  CaucAsia Magazine – August 2007 – Parenting & Gender, CaucAsia Magazine, August 2007, August 2007
  5. ReliefWeb, Violence Against Women in Azerbaijan: Alternative Report to UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) 2004 45 para 30
  6. International Federation for Human Rights, Azerbaijan: United Nations Calls on Azerbaijan to Address Widespread Violence Against Women, Publication date September 11, 2009, Access date November 17, 2009, http://www.fidh.org/United-Nations-calls-on-Azerbaijan para 8
  7. http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CCAQFjAB&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.usaid.gov%2Flocations%2Feurope_eurasia%2Fhealth%2Fdocs%2Fazerbaijan_fp_situational_analyses_final.pdf&rct=j&q=USA%20contraceptive%20supply%202004%20azerbaijan&ei=TCYNTa2vNtXnnQewoYWMBw&usg=AFQjCNHY-UFvXxDzBy925w-5vy9wkRceuQ&sig2=jWC0xHwX7Ynn69gXJ7kCCA&cad=rja
  8. UN Committee of the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women on Azerbaijan, 2009 – 8
  9. United Nations, Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – Concluding Observations 2007 p6