By Helen Morgan, Naomi Mihara
Indonesia has some of the highest rates of maternal mortality in Southeast Asia, and one of the biggest factors affecting the rate of maternal deaths is a lack of access. Local midwives in remote corners of the country are on the frontlines of primary care, but many women in poor and rural settings don’t have access to such care — and even when services are accessible, the quality varies.
Maternal mortality remains a global issue. Despite a significant reduction in recent years — falling by half between 1990 and 2015 — some 216 women per 100,000 live births still die each year. Now, Sustainable Development Goal 3 on healthy lives and well-being is aiming to reduce the number of women dying due to complications in childbirth to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. This is a huge challenge, and one that many countries are struggling to meet, particularly in a country such as Indonesia, where the numbers fell by just 5 percent in the same time period.
Papua, at the easternmost edge of Indonesia, is among the least developed provinces in the country, and its lack of health care infrastructure is concerning. A report from Human Rights Watch notes that Papua has Indonesia’s highest infant, child, and maternal mortality rates. But in Jayapura, the province’s capital, steps are being taken to counter this problem in primary health centers at the heart of the communities. These government-mandated centers — puskesmas, in Indonesian — are dotted around the sprawling city and its surrounding peri-urban areas. One of these centers, Puskesmas Waena, is tucked down a narrow street on the outskirts of the city, and visited by around 365 pregnant women per year — each of whom are entitled to four free check-ups over the course of their pregnancy.
Devex spoke with health care workers at the center to hear more about how access to care for pregnant women could be improved. This video explores the impact of a new digital data collection system, developed through a partnership between Philips, telecommunications company Telkom, and the local government, to help ensure effective sharing of patient data and to enable local health workers to seek advice from specialists across the country.
About sexual and reproductive health
"Women’s sexual and reproductive health is related to multiple human rights, including the right to life, the right to be free from torture, the right to health, the right to privacy, the right to education, and the prohibition of discrimination. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) have both clearly indicated that women’s right to health includes their sexual and reproductive health. This means that States have obligations to respect, protect and fulfill rights related to women’s sexual and reproductive health. The Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health maintains that women are entitled to reproductive health care services, goods and facilities that are: (a) available in adequate numbers; (b) accessible physically and economically; (c) accessible without discrimination; and (d) of good quality [see report A/61/338]."