Maternal and neonatal mortality rates in Sumba Timur are still considered to be high although there has been reduction every year.
In 2014, there were 108 neonatal deaths, 19 maternal deaths and 16 children under five deaths. All of these facts are revealed in the book ‘Milik Pusaka Allah’ which is a collection of homilies regarding maternal and neonatal health. The book was officially launched by the deputy head of Sumba Timur district on Tuesday, 5th May 2015.
The development of the book itself was a collaboration between the District Health Office (DHO) with Gereja Kristen Sumba (GKS) or the Christian Churches in Sumba and supported by the Australia Indonesia Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health (AIPMNH).
The deputy head of Sumba Timur district expressed his appreciation. The book, according to him, is a sign that people care about maternal and neonatal mortalities. He hoped that all stakeholders work together to find solutions for mortalities issues in Sumba Timur.
‘The role of the religious leaders is important especially in Sumba Timur. It is our understanding that the religious leaders can act as agents of change. They can influence other leaders to bring change in MNH, to promote health and to lead the communities in the efforts of reducing maternal and neonatal mortality rates. The non-medical aspect of maternal and neonatal health, such as community’s behaviour and practice, should not be underestimated. This is the area where the community leaders play their role.’
The purpose of the book, according to the Secretary of Christian Church in Sumba, Alfred Samani, is to improve the involvement of community leaders in promoting maternal and neonatal health and to bring about positive changes in community’s behaviour. The community leaders are also responsible to promote maternal and neonatal health. They can write and give their opinion as well as act to assist in promoting safe pregnancy and delivery.
Furthermore, Alfred also applauded the works of District Health Office to reduce maternal and neonatal mortalities in collaboration with AIPMNH. There have been many initiatives, ‘One of them is the involvement of community leaders in promoting behavioural change of the community toward safe pregnancy and birthing’ said Ernesto Njurumana, a DHO staff.
The event of book launching was concluded with books presented by the deputy head of Sumba Timur district to representatives of religious and community leaders, press, government officials and local council.
This article was published in Timor Express daily newspaper on May 9th 2015