Detecting high risk pregnancies in Indonesia

Women in Indonesia were 21 times more likely to die from childbirth than women in Australia in 2015.

Many pregnant women in Indonesia, particularly in remote areas, do not regularly visit health clinics, and so complications are not detected and dealt with early enough.

In 12 villages on Indonesia’s Madura island, student midwifes are accompanying pregnant women to antenatal classes and encouraging them to give birth with a skilled health provider present. Researchers from Airlangga University and the University of Sydney hope this will improve the detection of high-risk pregnancies, lead to more timely referrals, and ultimately reduce maternal mortality rates.

“There are too few trained healthcare staff in rural communities. It’s frustrating when we have been referred a patient with a lifethreatening condition who, if we had seen weeks or months earlier, could have been easily treated,” says Dr Budi Prasetyo, an obstetrician and gynaecologist at Universitas Airlangga.

Budi is coordinating this project, which is funded by the Indonesian Directorate of Higher Education (DIKTI) and The Australia-Indonesia Centre.

Since this research started in April 2015, there has been a slight increase in early detection rates for high-risk pregnancies, suggesting the approach is working.