Malaysia's maternal and child health has progressed throughout the post-Independence era. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) halved between 1957 and 1970 when it fell from around 280 to 141 per 100,000 live births. By the 1990s, the MMR declined further and for 2005-2009, it is reported at 29 per 100,000 live births (the readjusted MMR is 31 per 100,000 live births for 2008). The lifetime risk of maternal death in Malaysia is 1 in 1,200.
Reducing maternal mortality even further will need commitment, human and financial resources and innovative strategies.
Malaysia’s remarkable experience in reducing maternal mortality has been the result of a synergy of a wide range of policies, strategies, and programs that have addressed access to services through socio-economic, cultural, educational, gender, and poverty dimensions.
The country’s success in reducing maternal mortality reflects improvements in access to quality maternal health services, including family planning; increased professional skills of trained delivery attendants to manage pregnancy and delivery complications; investments in upgrading the quality of essential obstetric care in district hospitals; improved efficiency of referral and feedback systems to prevent delays; close engagement with communities to remove social and cultural constraints and improve acceptability of modern maternal health services; and improved monitoring systems.
Sustaining maternal mortality at Malaysia’s current low levels, and reducing it even further will require continued commitment, human and financial resources, and innovative program strategies.
The ability to sustain multi-agency support and to keep maternal health high on the policy agenda will require continued advocacy.
* Source: The State of the World's Children 2011