Improving health for mothers and children in South Asia

04/01/04

Maternal and child health, BMJ Vol 328, pp 816-9. Effect of maternal mental health on infant growth in low income countries, BMJ Vol 328 pp 820-3. Integrating healthcare for mothers and children in refugee camps and at direct level BMJ Vol 328 pp 834-6

What can be done to improve the health of mothers and children in South Asia? Several articles in this week's BMJ review the evidence and suggest interventions that may make a difference.

A third of the world's child deaths occur in South Asia. The region is also home to more than half of all the underweight children in the world, and maternal death rates are high.

Female illiteracy, poverty, and lack of empowerment of women are major barriers to improvement, say doctors. Yet, they show how substantial improvements have been achieved in some places by focusing resources on low cost primary care strategies and tackling socioeconomic issues.

A second article reveals that high levels of postnatal depression among South Asian women are affecting their children's health and development.

The authors suggest that not only will nutritional programmes need to be strengthened to ensure that poor children and their mothers have access to an adequate diet, but interventions for preventing and treating postnatal depression may be required.

In the final article on this topic, researchers argue that health care for mothers and children is seriously inadequate, both in refugee camps and in the government hospitals of most poorly resourced countries. They call for the urgent integration of hospital and home based health care.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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