Maternal Deaths in Parts of Indonesia Surpass 2020 Total in Just Two Months of COVID-19 Wave

*Maternal mortality rates have more than doubled across two Indonesian districts with nearly 70 percent from direct COVID-19 infection, reports Project HOPE *

Jakarta, Indonesia (July 26, 2021) -- While Indonesia's COVID-19 caseload has been decreasing, the number of maternal deaths caused by the virus is rising and could worsen as the second wave continues. The death rate is accelerating with more than 1,000 COVID-19 deaths per day and cases spreading to the outer island and other provinces.

Project HOPE's Executive Director for Indonesia, Edhie Rahmat, based in Jakarta, issued the following on-the-ground statement regarding COVID-19's impact on maternal, neonatal and child health and mortality, as observed in two Indonesian districts:

"In Grobogan and Banyumas alone, there have been 85 maternal deaths already this year. That's more than double the rate for 2020. Most of these deaths happened within a two-month time period, directly coinciding with the second COVID-19 wave. Nearly 70 percent of maternal deaths this year have been the direct result of COVID-19 infection. It is extremely troubling, and a significant reminder that we cannot let up on safety and control measures as cases drop.

"The same areas have also reported 184 neonatal deaths and 231 infant deaths. I am struck by the images and stories I'm receiving of dying newborn babies in some of the districts we support. These newborns are being released from hospitals with negative COVID-19 status, but later contracting COVID-19 and dying after being visited by neighbors and extended family members. It is heartbreaking. It is a tradition to celebrate newborns, and it is difficult for a mother and family to refuse visitors who are complying with health protocols like using facemasks. Anyone can understand that, as birth should be a time of joyous celebration and gathering with loved ones. However, it's now a grave risk to take.

"This is just the beginning of long-term impacts from the second wave, as people are hesitant to get tested or attend their routine health care appointments by fear of being infected by the virus.

"Progress in reducing maternal and newborn deaths is rapidly eroding due to COVID-19. Great advances are being wiped out by this pandemic, which will impact more lives to come. We must continue to build capacity amongst local health care workers and midwives who can bring care directly to communities who might be apprehensive to seek care."

"Young children under 12-years-old are seeing the impacts as well, making up nearly 20 percent of Indonesia's confirmed COVID-19 cases. They are now the third most vulnerable group behind the elderly and those with comorbidities."

Project HOPE In Indonesia:

  • Since 2016, Project HOPE and its local partners have trained Indonesian midwives and health workers to respond to childbirth complications. More than 85,000 mothers and 11,000 newborns have received care from trained health staff.
  • Project HOPE works to improve access to and raise the quality of maternal, neonatal and child health services in Banyumas and Grobogan districts of Central Java Province by building the capacity of the District Health centres. The Saving Lives at Birth program (SLAB) involves training on ante-natal and post-natal care, as well as follow-up coaching to health care providers to ensure skill retention. More than 3,000 midwives, community health volunteers and other health-care providers have completed SLAB training.

About Project HOPE

With the mission to place power in the hands of local health workers to save lives around the world, Project HOPE is a global health and humanitarian organization operating in more than 25 countries. Founded in 1958, we work side-by-side with local health systems to improve health and support community resilience. We work at the epicenter of today's greatest health challenges, including infectious and chronic diseases; disasters and health crises; maternal, neonatal and child health; pandemic preparedness and response; mental health for health workers; and the policies that impact how health care is delivered. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @ProjectHOPEorg.

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Contact: Carly Long, Media Specialist,, +1 (484) 356-8618, @ByCarlyLong