New survey highlights improvements in reproductive health status of population
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The 2010 Georgia Reproductive Health Survey shows that for the first time since 1999, the birth rate has surpassed the abortion rate in Georgia. The study also illustrates that infant and child mortality rates were significantly reduced from 41.6 in 1999 to 14.1.
With the goal of collecting comprehensive information on reproductive health statuses and the utilization of reproductive health and maternal and child health care services in the country, the Georgian Center for Disease Control and Public Health (NCDC) in collaboration various Georgian ministries and international organizations, conducted its third Georgian Reproductive Health Survey 2010 (GERHS10) supported by UNFPA, UNICEF and USAID.
“The goal of GERHS10 was to obtain national and regional estimates of basic demographic and reproductive health indicators and compare them to previous RHS results,” Sandra Elisabeth Roelofs, First Lady of Georgia, Chairperson of the National Reproductive Health Council said June 26 at a conference, which presented the final report of the survey to public.
The first two surveys were conducted in 1999 and 2005 and provided a baseline and follow-up for numerous and essential health indicators that can track changes in family planning, maternal and child health, or other reproductive health efforts in Georgia.
In 2010, organizers interviewed women from the ages of 15 to 44 from throughout the country. The majority of respondents were of Georgian ethnicity (87%), followed by Azeri (5%), Armenian (5%) and other ethnicities (3%).
Some of the main findings of the 2010 survey suggest that 35 % of women currently married or in a consensual union wanted more children; particularly notable was the relatively high proportion of women with two or more children (21%) who said in 2010 that want more children; the total fertility rate (TFR) calculated from GERHS10 of 2.0 children per woman is 25%, higher than the TFR of 1.6 births per woman observed during 2002-2005.
For the first time since 1999, the birth rate surpassed the abortion rate and the abortion-to-live birth ratio is now 0.8/1. The Total Induced Abortion Rate (TIAR) has been decreasing gradually from 3.7 abortions per woman in 1999 to 3.1 abortions per woman in 2002-2005. Between 2005 and 2010, the abortion rate dropped significantly to 1.6 abortions per woman, a 48% decline. The prenatal and childhood mortality situation also saw improvement: The infant mortality rate, the rate at which babies less than one-year of age die, has continued to steadily decline, from 41.6 per 1,000 live births from 1995-1999, to 21.1 from 2000-2004 and to 14.1 in 2005-2009.
“The efforts to improve the health of women, infants and children are at the core of the health care reform in Georgia, and the survey shows the main directions,” Zurab Tchiaberashvili, Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia said.
Reproductive Health in Georgia suffered during Georgia’s long and sometimes turbulent transition to independence from the former Soviet Union in the early 90s. Since independence, the country struggled with the new onset of poverty, economic and social disparities, as well as political difficulties, including civil war in 1992 and armed conflicts with Abkhazia and South Ossetia separatist regimes.
However, since the Rose Revolution in 2003, the Georgian authorities have been attempting to introduce reforms and implement national development strategies. Reform of the healthcare system was launched in 1995, but because state allocations for health remain low, international assistance continues to be critical for improving the health and healthcare in Georgia.
“I have participated in all the three surveys since 1999 and can say that that we have achieved a significant progress, this gives us the evidence demonstrated both in improved RH indicators and strengthened national capacity to implement large scale studies in the field of RH,” Tamar Khomasuridze, UNFPA Assistant Representative in Georgia remarked.
These surveys help healthcare professions to identify the needs of women and children and make the relevant interventions. In addition, the survey findings assist the government of Georgia to elaborate the relevant strategies and to monitor and evaluate their implementation.
By Ia Natsvlishvili