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The National Population and Family Planning Board (BKKBN) has warned that the country could fail to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as it continues to suffer setbacks in reducing the maternal mortality rate, due to the slow progress in improving the country’s family planning program.

Data from the 2012 Indonesian Demographic and Health Survey (SDKI) released last week, showed that there were 359 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births last year, compared to 228 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2007.

Chairman of the BKKBN Fasli Djalal said that the figure was far behind the 102 post-natal deaths per 100,000 live births targeted in the Millennium Development Goals.

The survey, which was jointly conducted by the BKKBN and Central Statistics Agency (BPS), however, showed an improvement in maternal services as 96 percent of women received antenatal care during pregnancy last year, up from 93 percent in 2007.

The SDKI also revealed that 83 percent of women received help from health workers when giving birth last year, an increase from a mere 73 percent in 2007.

Despite improvements in health services, Fasli said that the government had failed to reduce the country’s fertility rate that stood at 2.6 children per woman since 2002, which, according to him, was the main cause of the increased
maternal mortality rate.

“Within the last ten years, we have failed to reduce the country’s fertility rate, which stands at 2.6 children per woman. The number was 5.6 in 1971, but since 2002 we have not made any progress,” Fasli told The Jakarta Post
on Wednesday.

About 30 percent of maternal deaths are caused by obstetric hemorrhaging, making it one of the leading causes of maternal death.

Family planning can reduce maternal mortality rates, as delayed childbearing, longer intervals between births and limited childbirth may protect women against any obstetric dangers.

Fasli said that the BKKBN had also failed in its program to encourage wider use of long term contraceptive methods (MKJP), such as spiral, vasectomy and tubectomy among reproductive age couples.

“Our target by 2014 is that at least 27 percent of 45 million reproductive age couples join the long term contraceptive method. The current figure is only 10 percent,” Fasli said.

He also added that shortages in health workers were the reason behind the stalled family planning program.

Responding to the new figure, Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi said that the ministry in collaboration with health agencies across the country would continue to focus on preventive actions to reduce the maternal mortality rate, starting by improving reproductive health services among teenagers. Nafsiah also called on the public, especially husbands to actively engage in protecting their wives from maternal mortality risk factors.

“What we need to find out is whether a woman has died after failing to receive treatment when she needed it. That will be our focus [in improving maternal services],” Nafsiah said recently.

Although the government introduced its non-permanent assignment program (PTT) in 1992, in which young professional health workers were sent to remote places all over Indonesia, a shortage of professional health care workers remains in some provinces.

In 2011, the Health Ministry recruited 10,819 health care workers, comprising 2,425 doctors, 504 dentists and 7,881 midwives, under the PTT program.


Read the full article published in Jakarta Post, Thu, October 03 2013 here

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