KATHMANDU, Jan. 29 (Xinhua) -- The maternal mortality ratio is to high in Nepal as about 281 Nepali women per 100,000 live births die of complications during childbirth, said a UNICEF official here on Thursday.
This means on average, one woman dies from the complications related to childbirth every four hours. Many of those deaths are direct consequences of under utilization of maternal health services and low quality of care, especially in remote areas.
These are the data compiled by UNICEF under the global report on the "State of the World's Children (SOWC)". The report for 2009 outlined that only 19 percent deliveries are aided by a skilled birth attendant and only 18 percent of mothers delivered their babies in relative safety of institutions.
Addressing the media briefing of SOWC on Thursday in Nepali capital Kathmandu, UNICEF Representative to Nepal, Ms. Gillian Mellsop said, "We must face the fact that the maternal mortality ratio is to high in Nepal."
However, she appreciated steps taken by the Nepali government to confront the problem and reduce such unacceptable level of danger for women giving birth in Nepal.
Outlining the reasons for such high maternal mortality ratio, Mellsop said that difficult weather conditions and scarcity of roads are challenges in the delivery of maternal health services which are compounded by widespread poverty and lack of adequately trained human resources.
In contrast to maternal mortality ratio, the Nepali government has made good progress in the reduction of under-5 mortality, in terms of neonatal health.
Newborn mortality rate in Nepal has reduced to 33 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2006 compared to 39 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2001. Two-thirds of the total death is in the first week of life, according to the report.
Around 40 percent of the neonatal deaths are due to preventable causes like infection. The most critical issue with newborn health is that more than 80 percent of deliveries occur at home in the absence of skilled birth attendants.
Nepali government has announced free delivery services in all health facilities across the country since Jan. 14.
"I am pleased to note that the Nepali government is taking serious steps to address this issue with excellent Community-based Newbrn Care Package that is being rolled out from this year onwards," said Mellsop.
"Not only this but the second Long-term Safe motherhood Neonatal Plan is in place to address," Mellsop added.