Reproductive health care continues to decline [Archives:2006/914/Local News]

January 23 2006

SANA'A, Jan. 22 ) Recent reproductive health field surveys in Amran, Shabwa and Marib, revealed deteriorating care of mothers during pregnancy and after childbirth. The survey also revealed declines in child care, family planning and reproductive health awareness.

Conducted August through October 2005 by the Central Organization for Statistics, the survey was part of the American USAID-funded Catalyst Yemen project. The survey found that 48 percent of women in the project area have access to family planning and reproductive health, while 57 percent do not have any health care access during pregnancy. This figure rises to 61 percent for the entire country.

The survey also found that 90 percent of women receive no post-delivery care, as 79 percent of deliveries occur in the home. It also revealed that 16 percent of women do not know necessary procedures in such cases and 44 percent of husbands ignore the importance of caring for the mother post-delivery.

Field surveys found that 40 percent of infants complete two years of breastfeeding, but only 36 percent begin breastfeeding within the first hour of delivery.

The rate of children completing vaccinations is 34 percent, while 60 percent have no access to health care at all. As for the 58 percent contracting fever and cough, 51 percent do not have health services. Diarrhea also proved to be a major fatal disease.

Family planning and reproductive health awareness is declining in these governorates. More than 53 percent of reproducing women know nothing about family planning and more than 80 percent use no means of birth control. Women who know about AIDS are 52 percent and 92 percent do not agree with female circumcision.

A project symposium held with the health service, heads of households and community leaders concluded that there is a lack of medical facilities, personnel and some other important departments. There was a consensus among symposium participants that home births mainly are attributed to absence of female medical professionals. The symposium also noted that absence of female teachers in girls' schools is an important factor in girls dropping out of school.