The Ministry of Health has directed all healthcare facilities to educate pregnant women about possible risk factors and assess their severity from their first prenatal visit, in order to ensure the safety of mothers and infants.

The 6th Cambodian Perinatal Congress, themed “Perinatal Care in High-Risk Pregnancies and Kangaroo Mother Care” and organised by the Perinatal Society of Cambodia (PSC), took place on September 23 in Siem Reap province, with more than 200 ministry leaders and healthcare experts in attendance, according to the ministry.

“The congress provided valuable insights, and will make a significant contribution to reducing mortalities and complications through enhancing awareness among pregnant women about various risk factors,” it added.

Kangaroo Mother Care, which involves skin-to-skin contact, is an intervention to care for premature or low birth weight infants. It has been recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) since 2003.

The ministry said compliance will ensure timely and appropriate decision making for the safety of mothers and newborns, and will be achieved through effective communication by doctors and nurses.

Im Sithikar, ministry secretary of state responsible for maternal, child, and child welfare and chairperson of the PSC, said the annual congress plays a vital role in strengthening and improving maternal, infant and child healthcare. This aligns with the government’s prioritisation of better wellbeing for all citizens.

“I bring an important message from health minister Chheang Ra, who has called upon leaders and health officials to collaborate. His goal is to enhance the quality of healthcare services, gain a deep understanding of challenges and address them promptly and effectively,” she added.

The findings of the 2021-22 Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey (2021-22 CDHS) revealed a decline in the Kingdom’s maternal, infant and child mortality rates, when compared with the 2014 survey.

The 2021-22 CDHS suggested that maternal mortality rates fell from 170 to 154 per 100,000 live births.

The report highlighted that ensuring proper care throughout pregnancy and childbirth is crucial for the health of mothers and infants. It contributes to a reduction in disease and mortality during pregnancy, childbirth and the postpartum period.

“Nearly 99 per cent of women who gave birth received antenatal care from a specialist in the two years of the survey. Around 86 per cent of them received four or more prenatal care sessions during their most recent pregnancy. Additionally, about 98 per cent of them took iron supplements during their pregnancy,” added the report.

The survey showed a major rise in both statistics, with just 39 per cent of mothers having access to maternity care in 2000, and just nine per cent having four or more pre-natal care appointments.