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: 2016 to 2018

Cambodia. Two mothers and their newborns are discharged from the Provincial Referral Hospital of Kampot after receiving postnatal care. © GIZ
Cambodia has achieved significant successes in improving maternal and child health. The maternal mortality rate decreased from 472 per 100,000 live births in 2005, to 170 in 2014. In the same period, the newborn mortality rate dropped from 28 to 18 per 1,000 live births. Despite these improvements, both these statistics are still high by international and regional comparison.

Families with small children are benefitting increasingly from improved quality health services for mothers and children.


The project focuses on improving the quality of emergency services for mothers and children related to all areas of obstetric care. It supports training, coaching and mentoring for health care staff in dealing with childbirth emergencies, the introduction and improvement of newly developed approaches to the organisation of health services in a disability-friendly manner, and the development of instruments for diagnosing disabilities in infants.

In four provinces of Cambodia, the project is strengthening diagnostic, therapeutic and counselling skills among the health staff working in 25 specific Emergency Obstetric & Newborn Care (EmONC) facilities. In special training courses midwives are learning new skills for dealing with complicated deliveries. To this end, the project is also setting up and equipping training rooms in three provincial hospitals.

These activities are being carried out primarily by the consulting company GFA, in cooperation with the local non-governmental organisation RACHA and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. Other areas of collaboration with GFA and RACHA include the qualitative improvement of available health services and awareness campaigns to improve attitudes among the population regarding family planning and maternal and neonatal health.

The project is introducing tools and competencies to adapt health services to disability-related needs. This improves the level of information and the self-help capacities of persons with disabilities regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights.

At the same time, existing tools for the early detection of disabilities in children are being further developed in order to provide the Ministry of Health with a validated package of instruments that can be officially adopted.

Cambodia. Midwives distribute baby kits (provided by Muskoka) containing baby clothes and soap to new mothers in Steung Keo Health Centre in Kampot. © GIZ

The project supports capacity building for healthcare personnel.

Improvements have been achieved in midwifery skills for dealing with emergencies and the quality of related procedures in obstetric care. The benefits of this, and the growing acceptance on the part of the population can be seen, for example, in the growing demand for maternal health care services in the supported hospitals and health centres. Between 2012 and 2015, the number of assisted deliveries increased from a monthly average of 854 to 1,343 – a 57 per cent increase.

The number of complicated deliveries attended by skilled staff has increased in absolute and relative terms, rising from 2,032 (17 per cent of all deliveries) in 2013 to 3,129 (19.4 per cent) in 2015.

In its earlier phase, the project provided equipment and materials for emergency obstetrics in the four provinces. This has enabled those provinces to meet national standards for maternal and neonatal emergency care.

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


Cornelia Becker