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Citation Information

Type Report
Title Improving Maternal and Reproductive Health in South Asia: Drivers and Enablers
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2016
Publisher World Bank Publications
URL https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/25374/9781464809637.pdf?sequence=2&isAllo​wed=y
South Asia is home to 1.6 billion people across eight countries: Afghanistan,
Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. It is the
most densely populated region in the world and 42 percent of the developing
world’s poor inhabit South Asia. Despite significant progress in providing basic
education, on average only 62 percent of young women in the South Asia Region
(SAR) are literate compared with 77 percent of young men. One-fifth of the
population is between the ages of 15 and 24 and 50 percent of young adults are
unemployed (World Bank 2014b).
Among all regions worldwide, SAR has made the greatest progress in
decreasing maternal mortality rates between 1990 and 2013 by 65 percent
with an average annual decline of 4.4 percent. The Maternal Mortality Ratio
(MMR) declined from 550 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 190
in 2013. The use of skilled birth attendants (SBAs) has increased from
36.2 percent in 2000 to 49.8 percent in 2010. The total fertility rate (TFR)
declined from 4.2 in 1990 to 2.6 in 2012, and the region is close to reaching
replacement fertility. The average contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR)
increased from 41.3 percent to 52.3 percent between 1990 and 2010. This
progress has been enabled by successful policies and strategies related to
maternal and reproductive health (MRH). Advancements were supported by
macroeconomic growth, averaging 6 percent a year, which has significantly
funded advancements in human development (El-Saharty et al. 2014). Such
achievements implore the question, “What are the factors and interventions
that led to this relative sharp MMR decline in SAR against what is predicted
by standard socioeconomic outcomes?”

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