Atlacomulco, Mexico, 15 April 2013 (PAHO/WHO) – The director of the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, congratulated Mexican health officials today for an innovative maternity care model in Atlacomulco, in the State of Mexico, that has used a gender, human rights, and intercultural approach in more than 2,500 deliveries and 35,000 reproductive health check-ups since 2010.
“Every maternal death is a tragedy and every preventable maternal death is unacceptable,” said Etienne. She praised federal, state, and municipal health officials and health personnel for their “vision, commitment, and hard work.”
The State of Mexico has reduced maternal deaths by some 42% in the past 20 years. Mexico state, which is home to 14% of the country’s population, had 45.5 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births as of 2010, 6 percentage points lower than the national average.
Mexico state Governor Eruviel Ávila said, “there is still much to do to advance in this area” and “we are aiming for zero deaths, which we can achieve by working as a team, with everyone doing their part.”
Ávila said the progress made so far is the result of efforts spearheaded by the former governor and now president of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, who “expanded hospital infrastructure more than 60% and increased the number of health personnel” during his term as governor.
The Atlacomulco maternity care center has more than 70 nursing professionals, including specially trained obstetric nurses. Its model of care is based on primary health care, with services designed to meet the health as well as the cultural and social needs of the women and families it serves.
The center emphasizes regular maternal check-ups during pregnancy and post-partum, and for babies up until 2 years of age. It also helps mothers increase their knowledge and develop their abilities in early stimulation, breastfeeding, and family planning.
Beatriz García, nursing coordinator for Mexico state, noted that the Atlacomulco model emphasizes respect for women’s beliefs and the role of the family in maternal care and childbirth. “We are working to ensure that maternal death is not a threat, that it not harm Mexican households,” she said.
Since 2011, PAHO/WHO has worked with the Secretariat of Health of Mexico state to ensure universal access to maternal health services and to strengthen human resources through training in prenatal check-ups, the use of technologies, and management of obstetric emergencies, among other areas.
In the coming years, the government of Mexico state plans to open nine additional maternity centers using the same model. It projects the cost of the centers to be 360 million pesos, equivalent to about US$28 million.
“If we want to achieve the Millennium Development Goals’ target of reducing maternal mortality by 75% between 2000 and 2015, we must redouble our efforts and use strategies such as the Atlacomulco model,” said Etienne.
PAHO, founded in 1902, is the oldest international public health organization in the world. It works with its member countries to improve the health and the quality of life of the people of the Americas. It also serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of WHO.
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