Delivering Better Outcomes



Aug 10


In September our ‘Safe Arrivals’ team heads off to Cambodia to train another 300 midwives. It’s hard to believe, but childbirth is one of the riskier events of a woman’s life – especially in a developing nation.

The Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) in Australia is 8.4/100,000. That means that there are 8.4 women who die in childbirth or from pregnancy related complications for every 100,000 live births. In Cambodia the unofficial MMR is around 700/100,000. That means a pregnant woman in Cambodia has 83 more times the chance of dying than a pregnant woman in Australia.

Numbers can be quickly dismissed but it’s worth knowing that in Cambodia every three and a half hours a mother dies in childbirth or from complications relating to pregnancy.  The ‘official’ maternal death rate accounts for 18% of all deaths of Cambodian women aged 15-49 years – the reality would be much higher.

In rural and remote Cambodia, where 85% of the population live, only 28% of women have a skilled birth attendant present during delivery.  For the majority of labouring women the most common delivery assistant is a traditional birth attendant (TBA).

Disappointingly, these faithful, caring and selfless women who serve their communities in a role played out for thousands of years are often overlooked and worse still held responsible as ‘scapegoats’ for the country’s high infant and maternal deaths.

In contrast I see them as an intrinsic part in the well being of their communities; needing to be embraced and taught new skills to deliver healthy outcomes for Cambodia’s mums and babies.

Cambodia’s traditional birth attendants – not cut loose, ignored or blamed but honoured and re-skilled, that’s the heart of Safe Arrivals!

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