Before the Launch of Women Deliver 2013, a Regional Briefing on Health in South and Southeast Asia

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By: Kate Mitchell, Manager of the MHTF Knowledge Management System, Women and Health Initiative

Women Deliver 2013 is bringing together thousands of world leaders to talk about issues confronting women and girls this week. Maternal health is coming up again and again in the initial days of the conference in Kuala Lumpur as a key topic in women’s health. Our colleague, Sandeeep Bathala, of the Wilson Center in Washington DC is attending the conference, and sending us reports.

Earlier this week, just before the launch of the Women Deliver 2013 conference, Bathala gathered with health experts on South and Southeast Asia to discuss the state of maternal health in the region. Bathala spoke specifically about progress and challenges to improving maternal health in India. The regional briefing built upon conversations that began last month in New Delhi at a policy dialogue focused on maternal health in India.

Bathala wrote a blog post for New Security Beat that outlines much of what she talked about at the briefing in Kuala Lumpur. In her post, she describes large-scale programs like the National Rural Health Mission and Janani Suraksha Yojana (the national conditional cash transfer program that  encourages institutional deliveries). She cites the falling maternal mortality ratio in India as a whole. Bathala also raises concerns about inequity and disparity along geographic as well as socioeconomic lines within India.

Bathala writes:

Sadly, access to health services [in India] still depends on a woman’s education, wealth, the community she belongs to, and where she lives.

Read the full post on New Security Beat.

Watch the video of the policy dialogue held in Delhi last month, featuring Mary Nell Wegner, executive director of the Maternal Health Task Force.