India still has a long way to go in improving maternal mortality rates

Concerted efforts by governments in partnership with the UNFPA and other development partners have led to reductions in maternal mortalities by half worldwide since 1990.

Author Carrie Byrne, 10.31.12

Concerted efforts by governments in partnership with the UNFPA and other development partners have led to reductions in maternal mortalities by half worldwide since 1990. So too has India’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) reduced dramatically in recent times ( by 59 % between 1990 and 2008). However, the hard truth is that the country still contributes a whopping 19% of all maternal deaths worldwide , the highest number per annum in the world, and is not on path to meet the MDG goals in this regard.

According to The World Health Organisation, the rate of decline in mortality in India is , „less than half of what is needed to achieve the MDG target of reducing the MMR by 75% between 1990 and 2015“. Poverty and a related lack of access to basic services are the obvious primary determinants and causes of maternal deaths. It is then unsurpring that the highest rates in the world exist in countries where women are poor and occupy a low position in society. It is therefore Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia that have by far the highest proportion of maternal deaths in the world and the risk is that  a woman from one of these countries is 36 times more likely to die from a pregnancy related cause than a woman in a developed country.

Maternal deaths are largely preventable with the right approach and the UNFPA has outlined the steps necessary to drastically reduce the incidence of maternal deaths. This quote from a Dr. Osotimehin at the UNFPA sums it up clearly : “We know exactly what to do to prevent maternal deaths: improve access to volunatary family planning, invest in health workers with midwifery skills and ensure access to emergency obstetrics care when complications arise. These interventions have proven to save lives and accelerate progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal 5“. Watch the video about the story of an individual woman who died unnecessarily due to a lack of medical facilities in rural India. 

Author: Carrie Byrne/ RESET editorial

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