Pre-natal care lowers maternal mortality rate

Vietnam's maternal death rate is decreasing, according to reports from 63 provinces and cities.

A total of 289 maternal deaths were reported in 2012, but only 259 cases last year. The number in the four first months this year was just 40.

The decline had been credited largely to better pre-natal checks, said professor Luu Thi Hong, Director of the Department of Mother-Child Health under the Ministry of Health.

Better pregnancy management had enabled doctors to discover any dangers earlier, said Hong. 

"Before, many pregnant women died due to bleeding, puerperal eclampsia (post natal coma and convulsions) and infections because medical treatment was not sophisticated," she said.

Thanks to early management and discovery, pregnant women can now rest and avoid hard work so that their pregnancy will be full-term. 

Several years ago, as many as 90 percent of women suffering from placenta praevia (lower uterus blocked by placenta, creating bleeding) could die.

Today, early discovery of the complication allowed doctors to perform caesarean birth to save mother and child, said Hong. On top of this, sterilisation procedures today are also much better.

However, Hong said there were significant differences in maternal death rates between regions.

"Women in mountain areas often still have their children at home," she said. This led to more obstetrics accidents due to the absence of doctors.

According to reports from the 595 districts across the country, there are not enough obstetric doctors to provide one for each hospital. This has led to the retention of midwives at many hospitals.

To improve the problem, women are now given more information on why they should deliver their children at medical stations. The ministry has also helped train village-based midwives to help ethnic women during their deliveries.

"More training should be given to obstetrics doctors and midwives at district hospitals," said Hong. 

She added that residents should also be given family planning to avoid having too many children. 

Every year, there are between 1,200,000 and 1,500,000 children born throughout Vietnam.