Inerie, a docu-drama film set in the Ngada District of NTT, rural Indonesia, premieres tonight and portrays the difficulties and dangers facing women and their infants during childbirth, as well as the opportunities for overcoming those dangers.

The purpose of the film is to raise awareness of the very high numbers of preventable maternal deaths in Indonesia and as an educational tool in rural and remote areas. It was funded and arranged by the DFAT-funded Australia-Indonesia Partnership for Maternal and Neonatal Health project.

The evidence base for prevention of maternal deaths includes that women give birth in a facility that has competent staff, essential drugs and equipment and infrastructure of good standard, including reliable water supply, sanitation and electricity.

In remote areas of Indonesia, and even in not so remote areas, women today are still giving birth at home either with the assistance of their families or with traditional midwives. The reasons for this are varied and often intertwined including, cultural norms, negative perceptions of health services, distance and transport issues, poverty and that women often have little control over their lives or decision making capability.

The goal of the partnership is to reduce maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity through evidence based interventions. Since 2009 and working with five Indonesian government partners across 14 NTT districts the goal of reducing maternal deaths has been achieved with maternal deaths decreasing by 34 per cent. This has been achieved through provision of technical assistance, capacity building, essential equipment and renovation and construction of facilities.