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Maternal health in India: Challenges and Solutions

Updated: Jun 17, 2020

Despite a decade of rapid economic growth in India, government-run programmes don’t reach those who need them most. “Progress has been made, but more than 150 women still die due to complications arising from pregnancy or childbirth every day



Improving maternal and child health is still a key focus area for India. India make remarkable progress in past few decades in reducing maternal mortality, however, despite this progress, India is expected to fall significantly short to attain 2015 MDG target by 26 points.


In India, about 56,000 women dies annually for childbirth, that's one every eight minutes. This accounts for 19 percent of maternal deaths around the world. In addition to these, millions suffer pregnancy related morbidities.

Safe motherhood depends on the delivery by trained personnel, particularly through institutional facilities. It is expected that India will be able to ensure only 62 percent of births in institutional facilities with trained personnel. To achieve Millennium Development Goals India needs equitable coverage of maternal and child health care services across the states.


Current status: In 20 years, the number of maternal deaths has decreased from more than 540,000 deaths in 1990 to less than 290,000 in 2010 – a decline of 47%. Around 20 percent of these occur in India. Currently India faces the enormous challenge of reducing maternal mortality from 178 (in 2011-12) per 100,000 live births to 109 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

However, delivery in institutional facilities has risen slowly from 26 percent in 1992-93 to 47 percent in 2007-08. Consequently, deliveries by skilled personnel have increased at the same pace, from 33 percent to 52 percent in the same period.

Issues and Challenges:

Globally, every year over 500,000 women die of pregnancy related causes and 99 percent of these occur in developing countries. India has accounted for at least a quarter of maternal deaths reported globally. India’s goal to achieve SDG is still far away despite its programmatic efforts and rapid economic progress over the past two decades. The reduction in MMR is not satisfactory, however Government of India and other non government organizations has taken many steps for the improvement of health of women but still majority of Indian women do not have the accessibility for quality maternal health services.

Different social, demo-graphical, economical and medical factors are responsible for poor maternal health status of India. High rate of malnutrition among women, low education and social status, early age of marriage, teenage pregnancy, high birth rates, and less spacing between two deliveries are some key social factors which cause increase in maternal mortality ratio. On the other hand, medical conditions, also form a significant proportion of maternal mortality—but Seventy percent of these can be prevented only by grappling with inequities and the basic right to safe childbirth.


Solutions:

Despite a decade of rapid economic growth in India, government-run programmes don’t reach those who need them most. “Progress has been made, but more than 150 women still die due to complications arising from pregnancy or childbirth every day. Nearly 90 percent of maternal mortality can be reduced by improving access to affordable healthcare and timely life-saving interventions and implementation of evidence-based, focused strategies with robust governance along with a strong political will.

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