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MDG 5: Improve Maternal Health
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MDG 5: Improve Maternal Health

More than half a million women die every year from complications of pregnancy and childbirth, and almost all of these could be avoided with access to professional health care. Which is why Australia is helping to train the next generation of midwives and providing specialist surgical services and training in East Timor.

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Find out more about AusAID's efforts to meet the UN Millennium Development Goals.

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Segment 1

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Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)
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5. Improve maternal health. In developing countries births attended by skilled professionals have increased by more than 25 percent. However, more than half a million women still die from complications of pregnancy and childbirth. Almost all of these could be avoided with access to professional health care.
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Target. Reduce by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio. Achieve universal access to reproductive health.
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East Timor.
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East Timor is one of the countries in our region trying to address high maternal death rates.
KIRSTY GUSMAO-SWORD [Former First Lady of Timor-Leste]
There has been great progress made in the last seven years since independence in terms of providing basic health infrastructure. It's still very rudimentary if you compare it with Australia, of course.
VOICEOVER
Australian-born former first lady Kirsty Gusmao-Sword worked to established the Alola Foundation, which is making a difference by increasing awareness of antenatal and postnatal care. With the assistance of Australian Government funding, other programs are in place to train more doctors and midwives. Another complication is the high birth rate, with an average of seven children per woman
KIRSTY GUSMAO-SWORD
Timor has one of the highest rates of infant-maternal mortality in the world, something like 200 times the rate of under-five mortality compared with Australia. Alarming statistics.
KATE OLIVIERI [Australian Volunteers International]
It's a kind of insurance: if a woman has six children and then has a difficult birth with the seventh and dies of an infection because she couldn't get proper midwife assistance, then at least the father still had six children.
FERNANDA BORGES [East Timor Parliamentarian]
The quicker we have jobs, the quicker we educate our young women in primary schooling in high schooling, we will be able to then see a new cohort of young women come through with different needs that are not so focused on having big families.
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It will take time, but East Timor is heading in the right direction.
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What is Australia doing? Helping to train the next generation of midwives and providing specialist surgical services and training in East Timor. Supporting outreach clinics, which target remote and rural villages with information on health, nutrition, and family planning. Helping to fund maternal and reproductive health activities in developing countries across the region and in Afghanistan.