Date of Award

Fall 11-8-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Dr. Monica Swahn

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Eriksen


Recent estimates of global maternal mortality indicate that for the first time since the Safe Motherhood Initiative of 1987, deaths due to pregnancy-related causes are on the decline. Defined as the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, maternal mortality is one of the strongest health statistics showing the disparity between poor and rich countries. Although a global decline is documented, challenges to reducing maternal mortality, and meeting Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for maternal health remain, particularly in many Sub-Saharan African and Southeast Asian countries.

This study presents an assessment of Cambodia’s progress towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal of reducing maternal deaths by ¾ by 2015. The report examines issues related to the improvement of maternal health, outlining the magnitude, determinants, and prevention methods of maternal mortality globally and in Cambodia.

Cambodia’s health policies and contextual factors impacting the maternal mortality ratio such as dramatic increases of skilled health personnel for delivery, delivery in health facility, and use of antenatal care are identified as key contributors to MMR reduction.

Continued progress in reducing maternal mortality in Cambodia requires improvements to midwifery skill, competencies around normal and emergency birthing care, and salaries of midwives as well as an incentive for new graduates to work in the public sector. An increase in the cooperation between government health centers and hospitals are crucial to ensure obstetric referrals, supervision of health center staff, and an improvement in maternal death data collection. Finally a national priority to increase the use of family planning and safe abortion will significantly contribute to the continued reduction of MMR.


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