Indonesia Must Work To Empower Women In Order To Improve Maternal Health Standards

Though Indonesia is “widely seen as a development success story — indeed, it is sometimes referred to as one of Asia’s ‘rising powers’ … in the area of maternal health, the successes have been modest and much remains to be done,” Andrew Rosser, associate director of the Indo-Pacific Governance Research Centre at the University of Adelaide, writes in an Inside Indonesia opinion piece. “Indonesia is on track to meet many of these goals,” including those related to poverty, child nutrition and mortality, education, and tuberculosis and malaria, “[b]ut it is well off track when it comes to goals related to maternal health,” he states. The country also is “failing to meet its targets on the use of modern methods of contraception and reducing the ‘unmet need’ for family planning — that is, the proportion of couples who want to limit the number of children they have but do not have access to contraception,” Rosser notes.

He explains that several factors are contributing to the country’s high maternal mortality rate, including a lack of attended births, “poor administration and underfunding of government schemes aimed at funding maternal health care to the poor,” and corruption within the public health system. In addition, “poor women are not well-organized in relation to health issues,” Rosser says, adding, “Only when poor women are able to influence policy-making decisions at both the governmental and health facility level and hold unscrupulous health professionals accountable will they be able to access the services required to ensure safe motherhood.” He concludes, “Donors interested in achieving the MDGs will need to attend to these issues, not just the technical aspects of maternal health care, if they are to have any hope of achieving the 2015 targets” (7/2).