Health and Human Development - Global health: pregnancy
1999 saw the launch of a campaign informing women about the benefits of
folate before and during pregnancy to reduce the chances of neural tube
Poor maternal health before pregnancy is usually due to lack of education,
poverty and low socioeconomic status of thepotential new mother. These
factors can also be the reason for poor health once pregnancy and child
bearing have begun.
Empowering  women is important so that they can access high quality
services and information throughout their pregnancy which will in turn
allow them to make wise decisions about sexual relations, use of
contraception and child bearing.
A very important factor in explaining poor maternal health, however, is
simply lack of availability and low quality of health care resources.
This initiative was launched in 1987 to improve maternal health and
decrease the number of maternal deaths by 50% by the Year 2000, especially
in developing countries.
Policymakers have undertaken the following services:
* community education on safe motherhood to ensure increased
opportunities for choice
* prenatal care and counselling to promote maternal nutrition
* access to skilled assistance so that birth is safe and complications
are managed during and after the birth
* safe services for termination of pregnancy where abortion is not
* counselling and services pertaining to family planning particularly for
Neural tube defects are major malformations; they include spina bifida
where there is an incomplete closure of the spinal cord and anencephaly
where there is an incomplete closure of the cranium.
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