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Maternal mortality highest in South Sudan - UN

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June 6, 2007 (JUBA) — Rates of pregnancy-related deaths in south Sudan are the highest in the world, a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) official said.

"Rates are actually at 2,030 per 100,000 births, the worst in the world," UNFPA’s South Sudan head Dragudi Buwa said.

A 2005 peace deal ended more than two decades of civil war between the north and the south, and created a semi-autonomous southern government. But the south has few medical facilities for its population, estimated at about 10 million.

In north Sudan, rates of maternal mortality are 509 deaths per 100,000 births, according to the United Nations.

"Skilled care attendance at birth is under five per cent," Buwa added.

A lack of trained midwives, coupled with high rates of early marriage and pregnancy and a lack of health facilities and medical advice was responsible for the large number of pregnancy-related deaths, Buwa said.

UNFPA, which is about to release a report on the findings, estimates the teen birth rate to be at 200 per 1,000 births.

Buwa said researchers found many mothers as young as 13 and many 19-year-olds who had already had up to four children.

According to information gleaned from south Sudanese health facilities, haemorrhaging accounted for 25 percent of all maternal deaths.

"A normal blood banking system would mean at any time blood of different types would be available. What happens here is that there’s nothing in the stores," said Buwa.

Buwa said between 7 and 9 percent of blood donations screened at facilities was found to be HIV positive.

(Reuters)

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