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IRIN Examines Maternal, Child Health In Laos

“Health experts are reviewing a years-long effort to reverse a deadly trend for mothers and newborns in Laos, which has the highest death rate in Southeast Asia for both groups,” IRIN reports. “Offering free maternal and child health care since 2011 and doubling health expenditures in the past decade have helped, but more is needed to reduce preventable deaths, say experts,” the news service writes. Noting “[o]nly 38 percent of women give birth with someone known as a ‘skilled birth attendant,’” the news service continues, “Changing reproductive care-seeking behavior, especially for isolated communities, has been difficult,” as “[n]early 90 different languages are used among some 50 officially recognized ethnic groups, complicating communication between health workers and patients” and “[c]ash for out-of-pocket hospital payments and reproductive health awareness and services are lacking, especially in rural mountainous areas where most of the population lives.” In addition, IRIN examines the “need to provide youths with sexual and reproductive health services, including access to family planning and treatment for [sexually transmitted infections (STIs)]” (MacLean, 9/11).