Maternal deaths drop in Brunei, says report

Azlan Othman

The number of infant deaths in the Sultanate remained unchanged in 2018, while less Brunei women died from childbirth complications in the same year, according to a recent United Nations (UN) report.

The UN Inter-Agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) report, led by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), showed that infant deaths in the Sultanate remained the same at 10 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 compared to 2018.

More Brunei children have also survived past the age of five years, with deaths dropping to 2,000 in 2018 from 4,000 in 1990.

UNICEF said the results of the report reflect the global downward trend in maternal and child deaths.

The report showed that Southeast Asian countries have made the most significant progress globally with an 80 per cent decline in under-five deaths.

Despite the progress in the region, however, UNICEF said that an estimated 2.8 million pregnant women and infants die of preventable causes every year worldwide.

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) for Brunei is to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age by 2030, with all countries aiming to reduce neonatal mortality to at least as low as 12 per 1,000 live births and under-five mortality (U5MR) to at least as low as 25 per 1,000 live births.

Brunei Darussalam has been able to gradually reduce the U5MR from 30 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1976 to 11.5 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017. The current challenge is to achieve further reductions in U5MR, where the data analysis from 2004 to 2017 showed a high proportion of neonatal deaths, mainly due to perinatal conditions and congenital abnormalities.

Brunei Darussalam’s infant mortality rate has reached a steady state since 1990 and is on par with figures in developed nations. Infant mortality rate has declined rapidly from 50.8 per 1,000 live births in 1962 to 9.5 per 1,000 live births in 2017.