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Following her twelfth pregnancy, Faustina, age 40, lies swaddled in a thick blanket in the maternity ward in Malawi. Although she has just lost a baby, Faustina feels lucky that she did not become another statistic in Malawi's ongoing maternal mortality tragedy.
Annually, nearly 6,000 women in Malawi ??? one of the world's least developed countries ??? are dying from preventable or treatable complications of pregnancy. The maternal mortality rate in Malawi currently stands at a staggering 1,120 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the Malawi's Ministry of Health.
But UNFPA's village-based interventions are making a difference.
Juliana Lunguzi, a UNFPA program officer explains the work, "The idea is to empower village communities, including men, women and young people to take responsibility for their healthcare. Since this is an inclusive process involving collective decision making, it ensures that appropriate and timely actions are taken when there are complications in pregnancy and childbirth."
Also successfully in place are programs retraining traditional birth attendants, with no formal medical training, from delivering babies, and using their skills to monitor the progress of pregnancies. Ms. Lunguzi is elated by the overall results so far, seeing in some places a 50-100% decline in maternal deaths since 2005.