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JAKARTA, 07 April 2005 - Knowing the signs of high risk pregnancies and helping pregnant women reach a nearby community health centers (puskesmas), equipped with minimum obstetric care on time are important to ensure safe pregnancy and childbirth.

These are the 3 most common delays - namely the delay to know the signs of high risk pregnancy (at family level), the delay in accessing transportation (at community level) and the delay in receiving appropriate treatment (at health center) – depriving a pregnant woman of the immediate care she greatly needs.

In many parts of Indonesia, lack of public transportation and failure to financially anticipate the need for emergency transportation can be a serious problem that may put the pregnant women and their (unborn) baby in a life threatening situation.

“Providing access to transportation is needed to help pregnant women get immediate obstetric treatment and such a transportation arrangement can save the lives of both the mother and the baby,” said Dr. Bernard Coquelin, representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Indonesia.

While citing data that in the world, every minute, one woman dies from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, Dr. Coquelin also emphasized the fact that access to health care and related services is one of the 12 critical areas being highlighted in the 10-year review of the 1995 Beijing Women International Conference and its Platform for Action in New York recently, organized by the Commission on the Status of Women.

Over the past five years, ending in 2005, UNFPA Indonesia contributed at least US$1,880,000 for transportation funds in remote villages of West Java, East Nusa Tenggara, West Kalimantan and South Sumatra provinces.

As a part of the “Mother Friendly Movement” to curb maternal and infant death rates, this program, called the mini grant, allows women with high risk pregnancies and living in small villages be transferred to a nearby referral puskesmas or a hospital, based on the request of the village midwives.

Launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Women Empowerment (MOWE), the mini grant program has reportedly helped at least 1000 women with high risk pregnancies or complications get timely maternal care.
Such a transportation fund, said Gondan Puti Retnosari from MOWE, is indisputably needed, especially in villages where access to transportation is difficult or where locals could not afford it. Therefore, the benefit of this program can be directly felt by local pregnant women and their families.

“Before such a transportation fund existed, nothing much could be done to help women with high risk pregnancy or with complications,” she said. “But now, the village midwife can make a life-saving decision to help these women get the help they need and get it on time.”
The mini grant has motivated some villages to make this fund available and/or sustainable even after the completion of the program.

“Some villages collect Rp1,000 to Rp5,000 (around 10 - 50Cents) from each family every month to ensure the sustainability of this mini grant, others allocate similar fund from their budget. There are many other initiatives, involving private sector among others and some villages managed to increase or double or even triple the amount of the grant,” Gondan explained.

But the impact of the mini grant goes far beyond this. The program has fostered public awareness that as members of the community, they too have a role in ensuring safe motherhood for women in their respective villages and that the idea of providing access to emergency transportation would not be optimal without their involvement.

“In some villages, people allow their cars or horse-drawn carts be used on certain days and at specified hours for emergency transportation for pregnant women. They are really helpful,” she said.



For more information, please contact:

UNFPA - Maria Endah Hulupi
Media officers:

Tags: Humanitarian, Reproductive Health