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Study Finds Conflict-Affected Countries Receive Less Money For Reproductive Health

A recent study found developing countries affected by war receive less money for reproductive health than other developing nations, despite having acute needs, Reuters reports. “In war-affected countries, 1,041 pregnant women die for every 100,000 live births due to complications such as bleeding, infections and obstructed labour” compared to 720 maternal deaths for every 100,000 live births in “underdeveloped countries that were unaffected by war,” Reuters writes. Nine women die for every 100,000 live births “in advanced countries with modern healthcare facilities,” according to Reuters.

After sifting through “databases kept by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and United Nations” researchers from King’s College London and London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine “found that a total of $20.8 billion was given each year between 2003 and 2006 to 18 countries that were affected by war. Out of this total, $509.3 million, or 2.4 percent, was allocated to reproductive health” – which “amounts to just $1.30 for each person per year” compared to “developing nations which were not at war – such as Bangladesh, Malawi and Cambodia” who received “an average of $2.50 a person a year,” Reuters writes. The study – which did not elaborate on “why countries in conflict got less aid than those that were not at war” — was published in the medical journal PLoS Medicine.

“If the world is to meet the [U.N.] Millennium Development Goals, especially those related to child mortality, maternal health, and HIV/AIDS, then reproductive health issues related to conflict and post-conflict settings must be better understood and addressed in a more equitable manner than is currently the case,” Paul Speigel of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, who was not involved with the study, said (Lyn, Reuters, 6/9).