Issue 7 - 6 August 2013 enews home

Forum to address maternal, child deaths

By Louise Errington


Menzies School of Health Research Senior Lecturer Dr Suzanne Belton will mentor the “Protecting Mother and Child” public forum being held later this month

A public forum discussing the social, cultural, political and economic issues relating to preventable deaths of mothers and newborns will be held in Darwin this month.

Charles Darwin University has partnered with One Just World to deliver the forum, entitled “Protecting Mother and Child”, which will be moderated by Menzies School of Health Research Senior Lecturer Dr Suzanne Belton.

Dr Belton said limited access to contraception, termination of pregnancy services, antenatal and emergency obstetric services was the cause of many maternal and neonatal deaths in developing nations.

“Approximately 800 women die from easily treated medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth every day, with sub-Saharan Africa contributing 50 per cent of the world’s maternal mortalities,” Dr Belton said.

“Despite advancements made in maternal and neonatal healthcare, a lack of access to basic health care, antenatal check-ups, trained midwives and contraception continues to put the wellbeing of mothers and their children at risk.

“Blood loss is the most common reason women die during childbirth, and in some countries, there are no blood banks.”

Dr Belton said despite global reductions in maternal death rates, the fact that the issue remained a low priority in some countries created an inequity in health care.

“Many of the world’s poorer nations, such as Cuba, Sri Lanka, and Thailand are able to provide quality maternal health services with good outcomes so it is not just a question of money,” Dr Belton said.

“Some religious and cultural practices cause women’s deaths due to restricting access to contraception, safe abortion or condoning marriage at an early age before the girl is mature enough to deliver a baby.”

Dr Belton is a medical anthropologist with a research interest in women’s health in Australian Indigenous communities as well as South East Asia. She is a midwife with clinical experience in community health, women’s health, family planning, refugee health and alternative birth systems.

Director General for Primary Health Care for the Government of South Sudan Dr Samson Baba and Timor Leste-based Alola Foundation Maternal and Child Health Program Manager Angelina Fernadas will join Dr Belton in a panel discussion.

The event will be held on Thursday 15 August 2013 from 6:00pm - 7:30pm in Waterfront Rooms 2 and 3, Darwin Convention Centre, Stokes Hill Road. To register, visit W: