Feb. 28 (UPI) -- An initiative launched by U.S. health officials drastically reduced the maternal and newborn mortality rates in Indonesia, a new study says.
Between 2013 and 2017, the Expanding Maternal and Neonatal Survival initiative helped cut the maternal mortality rates within 24 hours of birth by 50 percent, according to new findings published Thursday in International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics. The $55 million program also worked to reduce newborn mortality by 21 percent.
"These key indicators of the quality of emergency obstetric and newborn care improved significantly at hospitals after EMAS support, suggesting that the program did improve the quality of care," says study lead author Saifuddin Ahmed, professor in the Bloomberg School's Department of Population, Family and Reproductive Health.
According to the study, more than 68,000 newborns and 10,000 women die from childbirth complications each year in Indonesia.
Delayed care and poor quality at hospitals and clinics cause many of the childbirth complications that lead to roughly 70 percent of the maternal deaths in Indonesia.
To bring down these numbers, the program helped 450 hospitals and clinics in Indonesia by mentoring staff, improving their health information systems, and providing more rigorous reviews of maternal and newborn mentality cases.
Although the program began in 2011, the study didn't begin tracking its progress until 2013.
"Indonesia has been doing very well economically in recent decades, but economic development doesn't automatically translate into reductions in maternal and newborn mortality," Ahmed said.
During the range of the study, EMNS helped reduce maternal deaths due to childbirth complications per 1,000 deaths from 5.4 to 2.6. Newborn deaths within 24 hours of birth also dropped from 4.8 to 3.3.
To achieve this result, EMNS workers increased use of drugs to bring on uterine contractions, which reduced postpartum bleeding. They also administered magnesium sulfate to treat pre-eclampsia, a condition that causes seizures and brain hemorrhaging.
"Sustaining and expanding the approaches of the EMAS program in Indonesia remains critically important to save the lives of mothers and children," Ahmed said.