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Areas of action

Maternal health


A pregnant woman leaves a Juba health clinic after a check-up.

It is estimated that every day 800 women die of avoidable complications related to pregnancy and childbirth. 53 per cent of these women live in sub-Saharan Africa and another 25 per cent in Southeast Asia.

German de­vel­op­ment policy is helping partner coun­tries to improve the quality, availability and accessibility of health care for pregnant women and mothers. Basic reproductive health services comprise antenatal and postnatal exami­na­tions, skilled birth attendance and early neonatal care, in addition to family planning services to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

Health care during pregnancy and childbirth generally includes promotion of breastfeeding. In the case of mothers who have tested HIV-positive, the risk of the child becoming infected with HIV must be weighed against the danger of undernourishment and disease resulting from unclean water. If possible, pregnant women and women who have recently given birth should take a voluntary HIV test with individual counselling. Infected women are offered a drugs therapy with which it is possible to reduce significantly the risk of mother-to-child HIV transmission during childbirth.

Within the framework of the legislation in place in partner coun­tries, Germany also advocates the provision of skilled care and counselling services following pregnancy terminations and helps to avoid them by supporting efforts to make reliable supplies of contraceptives widely available. Germany does not, however, consider abortion to be an acceptable family planning method.

In order to reduce the risk that women and girls will become infected with HIV and to improve their access to prevention, treatment and care, the various health care fields must be more closely dovetailed. Improvements to maternal and child health can only be achieved by coordinating various services, for example antenatal and postnatal care, sexual and reproductive health services including family planning, and medication for prevention and treatment.

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