Maternal Health Issues: Women Living In Poverty And Rural Areas Are Systematically Excluded From Receiving Quality Care1
Maternal Health is precarious in Guinea-Bissau. This small West African nation has a dismal track record in providing care for women and mothers. Over her lifetime, a woman in Guinea-Bissau has a one in 25 chance of death in pregnancy and childbirth, and despite having less than 2 million residents, 460 women die every year due to pregnancy-related causes2. The majority of women who die in childbirth had never received pre-natal care, and live in many ways outside the scope of social services: women living in poverty, and in rural areas are systematically excluded from receiving quality care at health facilities across the world. It is the same in Guinea-Bissau, with just 15% of women in the lowest socioeconomic quintile receiving skilled attendance at birth. These women are neglected in a system which is concentrated in urban zones, and extracts high user fees and tariffs to patients who seek care.
In 2004, the government created its very first population policy, and it is hoped that with this in addition to a further National Reproductive Health Policy and Programme from 2007, equitable improvement for mothers in Guinea-Bissau can be achieved. The government is supported by the UNFPA in its efforts, but there needs to be a considerably greater financial commitment from the State if improvements are to be realized. As it stands, the country spends just 2% of its GDP on health, and outside donor funding will not compensate for this government shortage.
Some organizations have begun extensive training programs but even these efforts will not combat problems of this scale. Additional effort at the national level to create appropriate infrastructure and funding for maternal health programs, outreach and education, as well as additional training for more doctors and midwives are all necessary to finally make consistent progress towards the elimination of maternal mortality.
- Thanks to Julianne Parker-Weis for this report ↩
- “Countdown to 2015: Maternal, Newborn and Child Survival” 2012 ↩