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Analytical summary - Maternal and newborn health

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Contraceptive prevalence in Liberia is low with an 11% utilization rate for any method of contraception (including modern and traditional methods) and an unmet need of 36%.[1] Factors contributing to low utilization include cultural beliefs, poor access to health services and low male involvement in family planning.

An antenatal sentinel surveillance survey conducted in 2008 showed an HIV prevalence rate of 4% among pregnant women attending antenatal care in Liberia. As of 2011, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has scaled-up HIV and AIDS service delivery points to 194 HIV counselling and testing sites, 230 prevention of mother-to-child transmission sites and 34 HIV care and treatment sites. Antiretroviral therapy coverage among HIV-positive persons eligible for antiretroviral therapy increased to 41% as of December 2010.[2]

The proportion of deliveries attended by skilled personnel has increased from 46.3% in 2009 to 64.7% in 2010.[3] This significant improvement could be attributed to many factors, including:

  • the distribution of mama and baby starter kits (a package of assorted items such as baby tower, soap, baby powder, blanket, etc. to mothers upon delivery to encourage institutional delivery) to mothers who deliver in the facility;
  • diversified public awareness campaign on maternal mortality reduction;
  • the availability of skilled health workers;
  • the training of traditional midwives to recognize danger signs and refer patients for delivery.
Newborn baby, Liberia

Over the past 2 years, Liberia has made significant progress towards improving maternal and child health by steadily reducing home-based delivery. Comparative analysis of the delivery data shows an 18.6% reduction in home delivery from 54.7% in 2008 to 36.1% in 2010.[3]

One of the key Millennium Development Goal 5 indicators that the health sector routinely monitors is delivery by skilled birth attendant. The Liberia demographic and health survey 1986[4] estimated the prevalence of skilled attendants at birth to be 91% while the Liberia demographic and health survey 2007 figure was 46%, reflecting a 45% decline in 21 years.[1]

This sharp decline in skilled attendants at birth is due to the prolong conflict. Nevertheless, the health sector has made tremendous progress over the past 2 years to increase the number of skilled attendants at birth. Delivery statistics for 2010 show an increase of 64.7% from 46.3% in 2009. Analyses of data on birth attended by skilled health worker indicate a decline of 26.3% from 1986 to 2010.

The Liberia demographic and health survey 2007 shows that almost 8 in 10 mothers (79%) receive prenatal care from a health professional (doctor, nurse, midwife or physician’s assistant), while 16% of mothers receive prenatal care from a traditional midwife and 4% of mothers do not receive any prenatal care.[1]

In Liberia, two thirds of mothers have four or more prenatal care visits, almost 20% have one to three prenatal care visits, and only 4% have no prenatal care at all. The Liberia demographic and health survey 2007[1] shows that women receive prenatal care services early during pregnancy. Over half of mothers (59%) obtain prenatal care in the first 3 months of pregnancy, and 24% make their first visit in the fourth or fifth month. Only 2% of women have their first prenatal care visit in their eighth month of pregnancy or later.[1]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Liberia demographic and health survey 2007 (pdf 2.5Mb). Monrovia, Liberia Institute of Statistics and Geo-Information Services, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare National AIDS Control Program and Macro International, 2008
  2. Annual report. Monrovia, Government of Liberia, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, 2011
  3. 3.0 3.1 Annual report. Monrovia, Government of Liberia, Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, 2010
  4. Liberia demographic and health survey 1986 (pdf 2.36Mb). Monrovia, Ministry of Planning and Economic Affairs and Institute for Resource Development/Westinghouse, Maryland, 1988