Maternal mortality has dropped substantially over the last two decades. From a recorded high of nearly 1000 deaths per 100,000 births1 to currently between 250-300 deaths per 100,00 live births2.  Lifetime risk of maternal mortality has deceased substantially. 
 
cambodia_mother_childJust a decade ago maternal mortality accounted for 18% of all deaths of women 15-49 years of age and represented women’s greatest risk of death3. At the time most deaths occurred due to lack of education, insufficiently trained health care providers, difficult access to medical facilities and poverty resulting in poor nutrition4. Since that time several changes have been put into place. 

Central planning from the government in conjunction international donors, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, politicians, individuals, communities and Red Cross volunteers drove a decades long investment into improving maternal survival rates. Heavy government investment in transport infrastructure and in health facilities, from local-level health posts and health centers to referral and national hospitals, all facilitated increasing universal access to professional health care centers. 

Healthcare centers now operate 24 hours per day, “and maternity waiting houses and extended delivery rooms at health centers were added to make maternity services more accessible. Antenatal care visits, known to be a factor in the likelihood of giving birth in a health facility, also increased. While in 2000 only 39% of pregnant women had at least one antenatal check-up with a health-care provider, by 2010 this figure nudged the 90% mark”5.

Further, the Ministry of Health also adopted of targeted education and employment to increase access to experienced personnel with 1-3 years of maternity health care training. To overcome reluctance to use medical facilities the ministry also offered financial incentives. Because of these programs skilled birth attendant-assisted deliveries went from 46% in 2007 to 70% in 2010, and deliveries in a health facility rose from 26% to 59% over the same period. “The increase in facility-based deliveries occurred across all the whole Cambodian population. Among the richest quintile of the population the proportion doubled, while it quadrupled amongst the poorest fifth of the population”6.

The country continues to invest in additional training to increase the knowledge of the current service providers and increase the quality of care and facilities for the upcoming cohorts. 


  1. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO),  2004 36 
  2. MEASURE DHS, Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey, 211, National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro, 2010, f) xxi, 111, 112 
  3. ibid 
  4. Population Reference Bureau 
  5. WHO 
  6. ibid 

 


  1. Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO),  2004 36 

  2. MEASURE DHS, Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey, 211, National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro, 2010, f) xxi, 111, 112 

  3. ibid 

  4. Population Reference Bureau 

  5. WHO 

  6. ibid