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One Woman per Minute Dies in the World As a Result of Pregnancy Complications

January 14, 2009

Journalistic Investigation, Eka Gulua

“One of the reasons of the death among mothers and infants is family violence.”

According to official statistics 15 mothers and 2 325 infants died during last three years in Georgia. However, the data is not exact and the number of death is much more. Besides that, 1 371 cases of dead-born children were recorded during recent three years. 99% of death-rate among mother comes on developing countries. As for the reasons, they are: family violence, social conditions, education, post-childbirth complications and risky abortions (in basements, in secret cabinets).

Experts of gender issues and healthcare reported to the Human Rights Center that almost every reason of mortality leads us to social conditions; so until the living conditions of the population will not improve, radical changes are not expected. In parallel to it, the experts state that Law on Gender should be adopted immediately that will protect females from family violence and from many other problems as well.

Current statistics also demonstrate that family violence is a serious problem in Georgia; however the data is not exact because the problem is tabooed in our country. However, experts state that family violence causes serious diseases and problems among women. For example, early childbirth, still-born, death of mother or infant, or born of disabled child

Mortality among mothers and infants

As for the statistics of the family violence, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia, in 2007-2008, 358 cases were recorded (they are recorded because police interfered in them).Women were victims in 313 out of those 358 cases and men only in 45 cases. Rusudan Pkhakadze, director of the Women Consultation Center “Sakhli”, stated to the Human Rights Center, the statistics is not close to reality because women generally avoid speaking about family problems for various reasons.

Rusudan Pkhakadze: “Promotion of woman in the society is tabooed in our mentality. But if a woman is famous in the society she is not a “perfect” woman; that means she is not good housewife and so on. As for family violence, it is one of the reasons of mortality among mothers and infants. Woman has much work to do at home. She has more responsibilities towards children and unacceptable environment in the family destroys her personality. In addition to that, family violence damages the health of the women eventually and finally destroys it. We provide consultations at least for 350 women a year and they complain about various forms of family violence. Psychological violence is on the first stage, physical violence is on the second stage.

Another reason for mortality among mothers and infants is poor social conditions. Professor Ia Veruslashvili, president of “Women’s Center”, stated that migration and imported infections are one of the main reasons for the problem. “In transitional period, the reason for mortality among infants is huge migration because a lot of diseases and HIV/AIDs are imported from abroad. Another problem is poverty; a woman can not apply to medical diagnostic center. Family violence negatively influences both woman and child’s health. Consequently, if a pregnant woman lives in the family where violence is common form of life, the pregnancy continues in pathological conditions and ends with negative results. Very often it results in the death of either mother or a child. If an infant survives, s/he is too small that is also problematic and causes various complications. Such girls are depressive during school years and boys are aggressive. These children are often called difficult children. At teen-age they themselves become violators. Consequently, world experts started speaking about prevention during pregnancy if we want to have healthy future generation. The prevention is necessary.”

Apart already mentioned reasons, Tamaz Kordzakhia, expert of the Ministry of Healthcare and director of the maternity home “Hera”, mentions one more reason: poor healthcare system in the country. He stated that upcoming economical crisis would impact demography even more and the situation will get worse.

Tamaz Kordzakhia: “Social situation directly influences the mortality of mothers and infants. Economical crisis that has already started in Georgia, will seriously influence demography and worsen the situation. Current problem of the medical service for infants has resulted from insufficient medical examination of pregnant while infections happen to be more frequent reasons for mortality. Consequently, early-born cases are quite frequent and infants are immature. Similar infants often have problems with breathing systems. Unfortunately, there is catastrophic situation in the city regarding artificial breathing apparatus. Very often, when an infant has problems with breathing and we have to take him/her to hospital the apparatus is not free. This apparatus has its own resource as well and cannot work properly in such aggressive environment as it is in Georgia. Worse situation is in regions. As for pregnant women, the state funds only 4 visits to doctor for them. However, funded visits do not envisage treatment for complications. Visit to a doctor cannot be just a visit and nothing more. If a patient complains of anything, she must be examined and treated; however, medical treatment and examination are not funded. Here we face social problems again. As for reasons for early born, these are various infections; insufficient nutrition, social environment, psycho-emotional field and others. It has so many reasons that sometimes it is difficult to guess what really caused the early-born. Resolution of this problem is again improved economical conditions.”

Experts do not trust the statistics of the mortality among mothers and infants and family violence. They state that reality is much more difficult. Academician Archil Khomasuridze, director of Jordania Research Institute of Human Reproduction, stated to the Human Rights Center that although family violence is not as big problem in Georgia as in the countries of Africa, the death-rate among mothers and infants is still high.

Archil Khomasuridze: “Family violence is not so much actual problem in Georgia as it is in Africa and South-East Asia. However, violence, discrimination of women, inhuman treatment is still problem. Further more, women decide on abortion because of family violence. Official data on mortality has always been falsified in Georgia and did not comply with real data. According to official statistics only 2 mothers died in 2007-it is not right. According to my information the real number was 22. The death-rate among infants is still high as well.”

Academician mentions problems of healthcare system as one of the reasons for mortality among mothers and infants. “One of the reasons is poor level of medical service. For example, we have serious problems regarding artificial breathing apparatus and incubators. In addition to that, we suffer from incompetence and poor education of medical personnel. Years ago, there was not incubator but so many infants did not die. Other reasons for the problems are: poverty, poor equipment of medical centers, service at hospitals-hygiene, sterilization and sanitary.”



Multi-component researches of the UN and Research and Consultation Network of Caucasian Women also demonstrate the fact that gender balance is not preserved in Georgia and women are discriminated in every field. The researches discuss family violence, social-economical status of women, signs of economical violence, psychological and verbal violence, etc. Particularly hard situation is in the regions of Georgia.

According to researches, unlike Tbilisi, mostly men have decision-making function in the families in the regions. As for social-economical status, most respondents of the researchers do not have their income or have too small one. 11, 7 % of interviewed women earn her own living: 19, 7% makes important contribution to family budget; 19, 7 % thinks that she has too small income; the remaining 47, 8% does not have income at all.

These researches exposed a category of women who are unemployed because their husbands forbade it. For example: 56 % of interviewed women do not work at all; 2, 4% has a random job; 52 % does not work because husbands prohibit them to work.

As for economical violence according to the researches: “Mostly spread forms of violence are financial deprivation and material dependence on husbands. It means the wife has to report to all her activities to her husband; husbands can impose complete financial control on their wives in every step. Particular part of women is under this oppression. Only 12, 4 % of interviewed women has right to spend saved money of the family.

A separate chapter is dedicated to psychological violence. It means negligence of personal values when a woman is persuaded that she is nothing without man and will die alone. 44 % of the interviewed women confirm that they have been under such influence. 61, 3% states that her own goals and achievements does not mean much to her.



According to the statistics of Georgia 916 infants died in Georgia in 2005 - 434 girls and 482 boys among them; in 2006 753 infants died (358 girls and 395 boys); 656 infants died in 2007(284 girls and 372 boys).

Still-born facts according to the age of mothers: in 2005, 2 infants died whose mothers were 15 - one girl and one boy; mothers at the age of 15-19 – 42 girls and 43 boys; mothers at the age of 20-29 - 170 girls and 196 boys; mothers at the age of 30-39 – 100 girls and 91 boys; mothers at the age of 40-49 – nine girls and 14 boys.

Mortality among mothers: in 2005 five mothers died whose age was between 15 and 29; in 2006 their number was 3; in 2007 – none. As for mothers over 30, 15 cases of death were recorded during recent three years (it is not exact data).

As for the mortality of mothers throughout the world, nearly 529 000 girls and women die because of post-childbirth complications. That means nearly one woman a minute. 99 % of mortality among mothers comes on developing countries.

For example, in Africa 1 out of 16 cases might end with death because of post-childbirth complications. However, women from North America face the risk that is one against 2 566. Teenager mothers die during complications during pregnancy and because of childbirth twice frequently.

According to the World Organization of Healthcare, nearly 529 000 death is supposed to be the average number of mortality because of childbirth. 253 000 out of total comes on Asia.

The rate of mortality in various countries is the following: in Azerbaijan 94 cases a year-1 against 520;  32 cases in Georgia – 1 against 1 700; 70 cases in Turkey – 1 against 740; 76 cases in Greece -  1 against 370; 210 cases in Kazakhstan; 24 in Uzbekistan; 56 in China; 10 in Japan; the highest rate is in Afghanistan -  1 900 a year and then Laos with 660 cases a year.

The Human Rights Center tried to interview those mothers who had their infants dead for various reasons; as well as parents whose daughters died because of post-pregnancy complications; however, they all refused to speak on the problem claiming it could not change their situation.