|© UNICEF/HQ07-0367/Dan Thomas|
Care that comes from a medical facility at the right time is at times necessary to save the life of a woman experiencing problems during childbirth. Trained health personnel should not only be able to assist with a normal delivery or a delivery with some slight problems. They should also be able to recognize serious problems that require referral for more specialized emergency care. To provide adequate help and assistance, health facilities must have enough medicines, supplies, equipment and trained personnel. Some things that prevent the provision of and access to emergency obstetric care include cost, distance, lack of personnel, and cultural barriers.
Post-natal care is an area that needs much attention. Women seek post-natal care less often than antenatal or delivery care. Even mothers who benefit from immediate post-partum care are often neglected during the days and weeks that follow. Even when a delivery is professionally supervised, post-partum care may be limited to a single check six weeks later. Post-natal care can improve the health of the baby, too, especially in encouraging hygienic childcare and early and exclusive breastfeeding.
We now know that helping mothers and newborns in packages can increase their efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Furthermore, when services are integrated, there is both more incentive for people to use them and greater opportunity to extend and enhance coverage. The goal is to develop a comprehensive primary-health-care system that provides women and children with essential services and strengthens links between households and health facilities.