Improving maternal-child health

Project description

Title: Maternal and Newborn Care Project
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
Country: Cambodia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Health
Overall term: 2012 to 2018

Cambodia. Two mothers and their newborns are discharged from the Provincial Referral Hospital of Kampot after receiving postnatal care. © GIZ


Despite remarkable improvements in maternal-child health in Cambodia, the maternal and neonatal mortality rate and the need for family planning remain high. The project began its work in August 2012 to support the national health plan and the Cambodian Ministry of Health’s ‘Fast Track Initiative’ for improving emergency care for newborns.


The quality and utilisation of health services in the areas of maternal-child health and rights-based family planning have improved in ways that take into account the needs of people with disabilities.


The project combines specialist and technical advice with process support and advice on organisational development. It finances materials, equipment and infrastructure to help implement the advisory services.

Together with the local non-governmental organisation RACHA, the consulting firm GFA implements measures in provinces, districts and communes. These measures include coaching provided by midwives to train local health care staff in the emergency care of mothers and children. In addition, doctors are trained in how to perform Caesarean sections. Other areas of cooperation with GFA and RACHA include efforts to improve the range of family planning services available and to positively influence people’s attitudes towards family planning and maternal and neonatal health through education measures.

To strengthen the inclusion of people with disabilities, the project works with Handicap International. One focus of this partnership is the development of measures to detect disabilities among children at an early stage and to rehabilitate children with disabilities. In training sessions, health service providers are made aware of the needs and rights of people with disabilities. To improve communication between doctors and people who are deaf or hearing impaired, Handicap International is creating appropriate communication aids. In addition, the project has asked the non-governmental organisation Epic Arts to choreograph dance and theatre performances to communicate with people with disabilities about sexual and reproductive rights and to raise their awareness.

Kambodscha. Hebammen verteilen Neugeborenenausstattungen, zur Verfügung gestellt von Muskoka, mit Babykleidung und Seife an Mütter im Steung Keo Gesundheitszentrum in Kampot. © GIZ


Six trainer-midwives, supported by three supervising doctors, are providing coaching on childbirth complications and life-saving emergency measures in the emergency centres of the target provinces. This is improving the quality of the services and increasing women’s willingness to give birth in these health facilities.

At the beginning of the project, medical equipment and consumables were procured in cooperation with UNICEF. These have been distributed to 98 health centres, six emergency obstetric centres in health centres, five obstetric departments in hospitals and the Kampong Thom, Baray Santuk and Stoung referral hospitals. They are being used to improve infection control, diagnoses, prenatal care, safe deliveries, emergency obstetric care and emergency care for newborns. In addition, the procurement of ambulances has strengthened the infrastructure for emergency transport in the four target provinces.

To raise health service providers’ awareness about the early detection and treatment of disabilities, Handicap International carried out training sessions with employees of health centres, hospitals and local health authorities. With a view to applying early detection and rehabilitation measures in cases of disabilities, Handicap International organised 42 Health Centre Days during which more than 18,000 children were examined.

Cambodia. Cheerful couple with healthy newborn at a health centre in Kampot. © GIZ © Ursula Meissner

As part of these action days, Epic Arts organised theatre performances to educate people, especially those with disabilities and their families, about pregnancy. These measures have led to greater awareness of issues relating to the sexual and reproductive health and rights of people with disabilities in the communes and in the health facilities.