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Sri Lankan national health policy to reduce maternal mortality

Author(s): M L Najimudeen

Journal: International Journal of Collaborative Research on Internal Medicine & Public Health
ISSN 1840-4529

Volume: 3;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 243;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: Maternal mortality | Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is not an affluent country. The health services were disrupted for 30 years due to terroristactivities. Tsunami and other natural disasters affected the island adversely.In spite of all the hardships the maternal mortality ratio was the lowest in this part of the worldIn the year 1935 there were 265 maternal deaths for every 10,000 deliveries. However within 65 years thematernal deaths were reduced to 1 in 10,000 deliveries. How Sri Lanka achieved this substantial reductionwith minimal health expenditure?The national health policy of Sri Lanka was instrumental in reducing the maternal mortality by providingthe optimal care during pregnancy, labour and afterwards by skilled health personnel.The health care is absolutely free in Sri Lanka. This made all the low income people to have easy accessto the hospitals. Free health by the state, infrastructure facilities to provide health services at the grass rootlevel, health services by the well trained Family Health Workers (FHW- filed midwives) in remote ruralareas, child births mostly at hospitals and liberal use of contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnanciesare the key success in minimizing maternal deaths in Sri Lanka.The modern contraceptive methods were provided free of charge and made available even in remote ruralareas. This reduced the unwanted pregnancies. The contraceptive prevalence is about 70% and almostcomparable to the developed countriesThe care during pregnancy, labour and postpartum period were given by the skilled and trained healthpersonality. The government encouraged hospital deliveries. In the year 2008 there were 352,443(97.84%) Hospital deliveries, and 6,855 (2.16%) Home deliveries. This minimized the complicationsduring delivery. Out of the total deliveries 90% had occurred in hospitals where consultants and theatrefacilities are available. This had drastically reduced the maternal morbidity and mortality.
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