How to improve maternal health: 4 lessons learned in Papua

Via YouTube

JAYAPURA, Indonesia — 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.

How do we ensure that people worldwide get the care they need without the risk of being pushed further into poverty? Devex explores the path to universal health coverage. Join us as we ask what it will take to achieve UHC for all by visiting our Healthy Horizons site and tagging #HealthyHorizons, #Health4All and @Devex.

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About the authors

  • Helen Morgan

    Helen Morgan is a former associate editor and producer at Devex, focusing on climate change and resilience building as the editorial lead of Devex’s Turning the Tide series, and opinions editor for Devex’s Global Views section. With a background in human rights, migration, and sustainable development and design, Helen has written for a variety of international publications in Buenos Aires and Shanghai before moving to Barcelona to study contemporary migration.
  • Naomi Mihara

    Naomi Mihara is a Video Journalist for Devex, based in Barcelona. She has a background in journalism and international development, having previously worked as an assistant correspondent for Japan's Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper and as a communications officer for the International Organization for Migration in Southeast Asia. She holds a master's degree in multimedia journalism from Bournemouth University.