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9 - Maternal health: Past, present and moving forward

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 January 2024

Firman Witoelar
Affiliation:
Australian National University, Canberra
Ariane Utomo
Affiliation:
University of Melbourne
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Summary

Women are not dying because of untreatable diseases. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving: We have not yet valued women’s lives and health highly enough.

Professor Mahmoud Fathalla

We would like to begin this chapter by recalling an important message related to maternal health as quoted by the United Nations Secretary-General during the High-Level Forum on Accelerating Millennium Development Goals (MDGs-5) on 24 September 2013. He quoted a statement from Professor Mahmoud Fathalla, an international campaigner for safe motherhood and a founder of the Safe Motherhood Initiative. The key message of this quote is that no one should be left behind in health matters, including women and mothers. Our main question is then ‘What about the progress of maternal health in Indonesia today?’.

This chapter attempts to answer that question by assessing how maternal health in Indonesia has changed over time and its potential trends in the future.

Maternal health commonly refers to the health of women during motherhood, starting from pregnancy, through to childbirth and the postnatal period. These are the most important stages during the parenthood experience. In actuality, maternal health starts when a woman enters adolescence, long before her motherhood period, and remains throughout a woman’s reproductive life and beyond menopause. Moreover, maternal health does not stand alone. It is influenced by many factors, including women’s living conditions, their early-age health status, as well as support from their family and partner. Therefore, maternal health–related issues should be a concern of societies at every level: micro (individual and family), meso (community) and macro (national and global).

At the macro level, maternal health has been a global priority as indicated in the United Nations MDGs (2000–2015) and subsequent Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Before then, the Safe Motherhood Initiative was introduced in 1987 at the Safe Motherhood Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (Sai and Measham 1992). Maternal health was covered in the fifth MDG, specifically a goal to ‘reduce maternal mortality by 75 percent by 2015’. Most recently, maternal health is covered in the third goal—ensure healthy lives and wellbeing for all—of the seventeen SDGs.

Type
Chapter
Information
In Sickness and In Health
Diagnosing Indonesia
, pp. 148 - 171
Publisher: ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute
Print publication year: 2022

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