The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has approved a soft loan of $100 million to help the government of Uzbekistan improve perinatal health services for pregnant women and their newborns, according to an ADB press release.

While Uzbekistan’s maternal mortality rate has improved from 38 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2010 to 30 deaths in 2020, it remains high compared to the average in Europe and Central Asia. Uzbekistan’s infant mortality rate, while previously improving, has also seen an increase in recent years due to rising birth rates, the report said.

The Integrated Perinatal Care Project will help the government upgrade approximately 230 perinatal centers across the country with modern, energy-efficient medical equipment, updated clinical standards and protocols, improved medical staff capacity and quality assurance mechanisms.

The project will also strengthen the perinatal referral system and expand access to appropriate and timely life-saving care by strengthening emergency teams and introducing electronic patient records for early identification of health risks and pregnancy monitoring.

“ADB support will also help the government implement targeted awareness and behavior change interventions and training of midwives and nurses to encourage pregnant women and mothers to seek health care services,” said ADB Uzbekistan Director Kanokpan Lao-Araya.

Uzbekistan joined the ADB in 1995, and the bank has since provided the country with $12.5 billion in loans, grants and technical assistance.