“Since 1961, there had been significant improvements in women’s health, education and employment. Given the significant growth in the number of hospitals, health units and indigenous treatment centres providing free access to health services, maternal mortality had been significantly reduced….The Committee welcomes the significant progress achieved by the State party from 1984 to 2000 in improving the welfare of its people, including its women, such as a decrease in maternal mortality from 7.7 to 2.5 per 1,000 live births”1
 
Bhutan-motherIn the last decade the maternal mortality rate had dropped from 440 deaths per 100,000 births2 to under 180 deaths per 100,000 births in 20103.
 
There are several primary drivers of this rapid change. There as been a rapid increase in the number of female health care workers in recent years4. Since 1961 the government has pushed for women’s education and employment in health care industries5, and since before 2003  has pushed for significant increases in hospitals and the training necessary to fully staff them. These changes have lead to increased access to tradition and modern health care which is now free to all. 
 
Still, progress needs to be made. Reporting is spotty, and it is unknown how this may affect the actual rate compared to the reported maternal mortality rate. The CEDAW committee also expressed concern that the frequency of health care visits (all women have at least one visit, but it is not clear how many more) was low and that family planning was not readily available for all who wish to have the education and access. There is also a growing AIDS epidemic that threatens health generally, and maternal child health specifically as it is women under age 25  which are experiencing the greatest rise in AIDS infection6

  1. Bhutan: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Concluding Observations, 2003 
  2. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report: Gender Inequality Index Table 4 – 2010 
  3. World Health Organization, World Health Statistics, Part III, Global Health Indicators http://www.who.int/gho/publications/world_health_statistics/2012/en/ 
  4. UN, Bhutan: Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 2007 
  5.  UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Bhutan CEDAW Concluding Observations, 2004, 17 February, 2011 
  6. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Bhutan, Published 7 August, 2009, Accessed 17 February, 2011, http://www.bayefsky.com/docs.php/area/conclobs/treaty/cedaw/opt/0/state/20/node/3/filename/bhutan_t4_cedaw_44 

  1. Bhutan: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) Concluding Observations, 2003 

  2. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report: Gender Inequality Index Table 4 – 2010 

  3. World Health Organization, World Health Statistics, Part III, Global Health Indicators http://www.who.int/gho/publications/world_health_statistics/2012/en/ 

  4. UN, Bhutan: Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 2007 

  5.  UN Committee for the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Bhutan CEDAW Concluding Observations, 2004, 17 February, 2011 

  6. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women: Bhutan, Published 7 August, 2009, Accessed 17 February, 2011, http://www.bayefsky.com/docs.php/area/conclobs/treaty/cedaw/opt/0/state/20/node/3/filename/bhutan_t4_cedaw_44