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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New ads push prenatal care

New ads push prenatal care

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A woman and her five-day-old baby lie in bed on Sunday at the Cambod-ian-Russian Friendship Hospital in Phnom Penh.

In an effort to reduce maternal mortality rates in the Kingdom and meet Cambodia’s fifth Millennium Development Goal, a new government public awareness campaign is educating women about the importance of receiving proper medical treatment during pregnancy.

The campaign, which is focused on women from rural areas in particular, consists of a series of public service announcements that encourage women to undergo routine health checks at least four times during the course of their pregnancy.

“I think that it is very important to broadcast this information to women, especially those in rural areas,” said Men Sothy, National Radio director within the Ministry of Information.

The ads, which range from 60-second spots to longer, two-minute stories, are broadcast on state-run television stations five to six times a day, he said.

“The hope is that after listening and watching the ads, they [pregnant women] will seek proper medical treatment,” he added.

Government officials estimate Cambodia’s maternal mortality rate at 461 deaths per 100,000 live births – one of the highest in the region.

Improving this figure is one of Cambodia’s nine Millennium Development Goals. The original target was to reduce the maternal mortality ratio to 140 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015, however, that ambition was scaled back in 2009, when the government changed the goal to the more realistic 250 deaths per 100,000 live births.

The new public awareness campaign is in response to what many officials say is a primary factor in Cambodia’s high maternal mortality rate – a lack of access to qualified health care providers.

Kum Kanal, director of the National Maternity and Child Health Centre, said yesterday that only 80 percent of expecting mothers received proper medical treatment.

Cambodia’s Demographic and Health Survey, a collaboration between the Ministry of Planning, the Ministry of Health and several international NGOs released in September, found that only a little more than half of all expecting mothers reported having four or more prenatal check-ups, the base amount recommended by the government.

“Getting health services during pregnancy is very important,” Kum Kanal said. “Pregnant women must get regular check-ups, and this government program urges them to do that.”

Toward this end, Kum Kanal said the National Maternity and Child Health Centre had set a goal of having 170 clinics for every 1,000 villagers in rural areas by 2015.

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