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Mali : traditional knowledge and the reduction of maternal and infant mortality

SANOGO, Rokia
GIANI, Sergio
November 2003

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IK Notes report on indigenous knowledge initiatives in Sub-Saharan Africa and occasionally on such initiatives outside the region. It is published by the World Bank Africa region’s Knowledge and Learning Centre as part of an evolving partnership between the World Bank, communities, NGOs, development institutions and multilateral organisations. This edition outlines the high rate of maternal and infant mortality in Mali, despite interventions by the government and donors in the past ten years. It then outlines the methodology used in developing a close collaboration between the traditional system of assistance to pregnancy and childbirth (of which traditional birth assistants (TBAs) are the protagonists) and the modern system of management of obstetrical emergencies. This involved a new role for the TBAs in breaking down cultural barriers in access to modern health care. The first results appear promising, and the authors stress the importance of taking into account traditional knowledge in birthing practices when developing a national strategy for the control of maternal and infant mortality

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