Maternal health issues 'have fallen off radar'

Family planning and other reproductive health programmes vital to poor women have "fallen off the development radar", it has been claimed.

The World Bank and the United Nations Population Fund say many low-income, donor country governments and international aid agencies are not giving the attention necessary to maternal care issues.

According to the bodies, care initiatives are vital to boost women's economic and social wellbeing, reduce endemic poverty and lower the number of maternal and infant deaths.

Joy Phumaphi, vice-president for human development at the World Bank, said the global economic downturn has "taken a wrecking ball" to growth and development in poor countries worldwide.

She added: "[This] has become a development emergency for women because invariably they're the first to suffer when economic crises strike.

"We've lost precious time in helping women get access to these vital health services, and helping countries get on a faster track to reducing poverty."

Last month, the World Health Organization reported that no improvement was seen in global maternal mortality rates between 1990 and 2007.ADNFCR-2094-ID-19245216-ADNFCR