The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) recently released a report showing that maternal mortality in Iraq has tripled since 1990. According to the report, the number of deaths due to complications in pregnancy or childbirth has risen from 117 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1989 to 310 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2002.
The study found that some of the major causes of maternal deaths have been bleeding, ectopic pregnancies, and prolonged labor. It also pointes out that the number of miscarriages has risen due to stress and exposure to chemical contaminants. According to the report, due to the breakdown of security and lack of access to medical facilities, more than 65 percent of women are giving birth at home.
Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, the executive director of the UNFPA, has asserted that “the reconstruction effort in Iraq will benefit greatly from rapid improvements in the area of reproductive health,” reports IRIN News. Most men and women in Iraq are unaware of family planning methods, there is a lack of contraception available, and there has been an increase in the number of unsafe abortions, reports the UNFPA.
In addition to lack of access to family planning and reproductive health services, the report points out that there has been a substantial increase in the number of cases of sexual violence and abductions of women and girls in Baghdad, and the cases have not been properly reported or investigated.