Health and Nutrition

The Issue

The Challenges

UNICEF in Action


Maternal and newborn health

© UNICEF/CEECIS2012P-0238/Zohidov

Neonatal causes contribute to over 60 per cent of under-5 mortality in all countries in this region (UNICEF SOWC, 2010). Prematurity is the first cause of neonatal death in all countries, with asphyxia and infection coming second and third in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, while in the remaining countries congenital diseases come second (Cattaneo et al., 2010). As reported by several assessments carried out at country level by WHO EURO, the main causes of maternal mortality in this region are haemorrhage, obstructed labour, sepsis and eclampsia, which means that in most countries the maternal mortality profile is still similar to that in developing countries.

The rates and the distribution of the main causes of maternal and neonatal mortality, in a context of improved living conditions, decreasing fertility and very high coverage with antenatal care and institutional births, point to problems in the quality of care for pregnant women and newborn babies, and again in inequitable access by disadvantaged population groups. This means removing financial, geographical and cultural barriers.

To improve maternal and newborn child care in this region, health services must have continuity and integration. Health care for everyone along the life cycle - from before conception into adolescence - must also be timely and have effective links between all levels. We will therefore identify the most vulnerable areas and population groups and address the major bottlenecks to equitable access to mother and child health services, which could range from legislation and budget expenditure to availability of commodities and service quality.

A home visiting service will provide further support for maternal, newborn and child health. Better communication about the benefits of good parenting, infant feeding and social inclusion will build public awareness, which is often marred by myths and negative perceptions about health services.

Last updated November 2013



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