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Cambodia Tackles High Maternal Mortality

Women in developing countries risk death and disability every time they become pregnant.

Complications before, during and after often can be be fatal in the developing world, according to Unicef.

"In Cambodia there were 472 deaths per 100,000 live births from 2000 to 2005, making maternity-related complications one of the leading causes of death of Cambodian women from ages 15 to 49," said Dr. Tung Rathavy, deputy director of the National Maternal and Child Center, who attended the 29th annual national health conference in Phnom Penh last week.

"Most births took place at home, outside of the health facilities. Cambodia needs 960 health facilities to serve the population," she told VOA Khmer. "We have today 830 health facilities. Among 830 facilities, 112 health facilities do not have nurses."

"Births at home provided by a woman's family and attendants can be safe," she added. "If complications occur, the attendants are able to move the woman to a facility where trained professionals can provide care."

In 2008, the National Assembly approved a budget of $101 million for the health care sector in order to improve its standards comparable to the other countries in the region.