Improving maternal health will not just benefit mothers and infants, but the entire families, who will benefit from such an urgent and intense action on reducing eminently preventable deaths.
Maternal mortality indicates a woman’s ability to access health care, contraceptive devices, and nutrition.
The maternal mortality ratio or MMR is the number of mothers who die from complications in pregnancy for every one lakh live births.
United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Target 3.1 calls for a reduction in the global maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to less than 70 per 100,000 by 2030.
High MMR, is clearly indicative of the inadequacy of responsiveness of health systems.
Causes Of Poor Maternal Health
Poverty and Hunger: New projections of global poverty by UN Women, UNDP and the Pardee Center for International Futures estimate that, globally, 388 million women and girls will be living in extreme poverty in 2022 (compared to 372 million men and boys). From it begins the vicious cycle of hunger and malnutrition and poor health conditions.
Patriarchal society: Women are often treated as secondary gender, their health and nutrition requirements are often ignored or neglected.
Socio-cultural practices: Majority of the vegetarian population is female (meat is a cheaper source of protein), in many families women eat only when men of the family are done eating. Under pressure of social responsibilities and household chores, they often miss their meals or do not take out time for their own health care.
Infrastructural and policy gaps: There are gaps in policy formulations due to lack of stakeholders’ participation and absence of accurate data. Last mile availability of quality healthcare is also a concern.
Maternal Mortality in India
Image Source: Down to Earth
Maternal Mortality in India
According to a bulletin on MMR released by the Registrar General of India (March 14, 2022), India’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has improved to 103 in 2017-19, from 113 in 2016-18.
'Very high' MMR means 130 or more maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. Seven Indian states have very high maternal mortality. These are Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Odisha and Assam.
The MMR is ‘high’ in Punjab, Uttarakhand and West Bengal. This means 100-130 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.
It is 'low' in Haryana and Karnataka (71-100 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births).
Measures to Reduce MMR
Improve overall care for women.
Improvements in access to contraceptives.
Post-delivery health care
Body mass index.
A concerted reduction of higher-order births.
Births at a higher age.
Keeping real-time track of crucial health data.
Taking prompt action to meet the SDG goal regarding MMR by improving maternal health.