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Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care in Sri Lanka

Almost 300,000 women die each year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. For each death 30 women live but suffer lifelong morbidity. There are at least 2.6 million still births every year. 3 million babies do not survive the first week of life. More than 90% of maternal and newborn deaths are in developing countries.

Women and their babies need access to and availability of a continuum of care that includes antenatal and post-natal care, skilled care during birth and when complications occur; and family planning services. In order for care to be effective, it must be evidence based and of good quality. There is no single ‘magic bullet’ – a package of interventions must be available for all women, everywhere.

At least 80% of all maternal deaths result from five complications that are well understood and can be readily treated: hemorrhage, sepsis, eclampsia, complications of obstructed labour and abortion. Similarly the most important causes of newborn deaths and stillbirths are asphyxia at the time of birth, preterm birth and sepsis in the newborn

We know how to prevent these deaths – there are existing effective medical and surgical interventions that are relatively inexpensive. These key interventions are bundled into a package of care known as ‘Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care’ (EmONC).

The CMNH designed the EmONC “skills and drills” package to develop the capacity of existing healthcare providers to recognize and effectively manage women and babies requiring EmONC. The package is badged by in-country governments, professional associations and UN partners.

Introduction and scale up of this type of training has shown a demonstrable and statistically significant improvement in knowledge and skills, team work, enthusiasm and motivation among maternity staff from participating health care facilities. An increase in the availability and quality of the key evidence based interventions with a 15% reduction in the number of still births and 20% in the number of women who die of complications