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Making a Difference in Maternal and Newborn Health Outcomes

ROME, October 11, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

The Millennium Development Goal 5 "Improve maternal health" set by the United Nations has made some progress, albeit slow. In 2010, the UN Secretary-General launched the 'Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health' to mobilise commitments by governments and civil society to accelerate progress towards it.

"In advance to Mr Ban Ki-moon's avowal, FIGO, the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics, set against this backdrop the Saving Mothers and Newborns Initiative. Funded by FIGO and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, it resulted in challenges and opportunities for 10 low-resource countries in their quest to make a tangible difference in the reduction of maternal and newborn morbidity and mortality," said Dr André Lalonde, Chair of  FIGO Committee for Safe Motherhood and Newborn Health, presenting at the FIGO2012 Congress in Rome, Italy.

FIGO worked with the associations of obstetricians, gynecologists and midwives of Haiti, Kenya, Kosovo, Moldova, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Uganda, Ukraine and Uruguay, with contributions from professional associations in high-resource countries.  Achieved results - one of the most notable, the provision of clinical training to over 2,000 health professionals, including birth attendants, midwives, and doctors - led to improvements to maternal and newborn health outcomes.

Furthermore, the Haiti project responded to the humanitarian disaster following the 2010 earthquake, through making  Port-au-Prince maternity centre one of the few able to offer essential obstetrical care; and the Uruguay project - how to manage unsafe abortion in a country with restrictive laws - set a model for many countries.

Provision of safe abortion services within the legal framework to avoid maternal mortality and problems associated with haemorrhage, pelvic infection, and subfertility moves another FIGO project: the 'Prevention of Unsafe Abortion Initiative'.

The project involves 44 countries worldwide and is based on national action plans adopted as a commitment by the government and the civil society and including all or some of the four levels: to reduce unintended pregnancies and abortions; to make unavoidable abortion safer; timely and correct treatment of abortion complications; to reduce its repetition.

"Most participating countries have achieved great progress, but mostly have understood and adopted the concept that abortion is a problem that cannot be ignored for its public health significance and its meaning to women's lives, and consequently action needs to be taken to reduce its number and consequences," Professor Anibal Faúndes, Chair of FIGO Working Group for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion, said.


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