Bhutan has witnessed unprecedented progress in child and maternal health over the last two decades. This is evident from the two-third reduction in maternal deaths: from 255 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 86 per 100,000 in 2012.
Similar decreases have been observed in the infant mortality (from 102 to 30 per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality rates (from 162 to 37.3 per 1,000 live births since 1984. This means that many more children are celebrating their fifth birthday than a decade ago, and many more mothers are surviving pregnancy and delivery-related complications to celebrate it with them.
Many more children are celebrating their fifth birthday than a decade ago, and many more mothers are surviving pregnancy and delivery-related complications to celebrate it with them.
Despite this significant progress, newborn mortality — deaths of children within the first four weeks of life — is still high (21 per 1,000 live births). Evidence has shown that the chances of a child surviving increases when the mother delivers in a health facility, with the help of a skilled birth attendant. Yet, nearly two of five women still deliver outside health facilities. It is mostly these women, often in remote areas, who consequently do not receive adequate delivery and postnatal care.
Infant mortality is still high, accounting for 56 percent of under-five deaths and 70 percent of all infant deaths in Bhutan.
21 out of every 1,000 newborn babies die within the first month. 75 percent of these deaths are due to prematurity and associated complications at birth, which are largely preventable with good antenatal, natal and Post-Natal Care (PNC).
Care during labour, delivery and immediately after birth can prevent 40 percent of newborn deaths. Only 74 percent of mothers and babies receive PNC with urban areas reporting higher rates of PNC than rural areas.