Maternal mortality has been falling significantly in Cambodia since 2005 though it had been stagnant for at least 15 years before that. This paper analyzes the evolution of some major societal and health system factors based on recent national and international reports. The maternal mortality ratio fell from 472 per 100,000 live births in 2000-2005 to 206 in 2006-2010. Background factors have included peace and stability, economic growth and poverty reduction, improved primary education, especially for girls, improved roads, improved access to information on health and health services via TV, radio and cellphones, and increased ability to communicate with and within the health system. Specific health system improvements include a rapid increase in facility-based births and skilled birth attendance, notably investment in midwifery training and numbers of midwives providing antenatal care and deliveries within an expanding primary health care network, a monetary incentive for facility-based midwives for every live birth conducted, and an expanding system of health equity funds, making health care free of cost for poor people. Several major challenges remain, including post-partum care, family planning, prevention and treatment of breast and cervical cancer, and addressing sexual violence against women, which need the same priority attention as maternity care.
Copyright © 2012 Reproductive Health Matters. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.