Expectant mothers to be monitored to check anaemia

Infant, maternal mortality high due to low red blood cells count

With anaemia causing high mortality of mothers and babies, the Centre plans to regularly monitor the health of six to seven lakh pregnant mothers every year to ensure that they do not become victims of the condition.

Based on the government’s latest annual health survey, the Union Health Ministry estimated that close to 2 per cent pregnant women in nine northern states are highly anaemic with less than 7 gm of haemoglobin per 100 ml of blood. They need medical attention.

The plan is to identify highly anaemic women at the village level when they come to ante-natal clinics in their first trimester and put them on iron and folic acid supplements as their attendance ratio drops in the next two trimesters.

“This will eventually come down to keeping a record of 12-14 pregnant women at each primary health care centre and monitoring their pregnancy, which is a manageable task,” a Health Ministry official told Deccan Herald.

On Monday, the ministry released health indicator data on nine states—Assam, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh—collected by the registrar general of India.

These states account for about 48 per cent of the total population, 59 per cent of births, 70 per cent of infant deaths, 75 per cent of under-five deaths and 62 per cent of maternal deaths. These are high-focus states because of high fertility and mortality at the national level.

Female sterilisation remains the most dominant method of family planning across the focus states except Assam, while male sterilisation has not really taken off, says the survey.

Under-age marriage is rampant across rural India. Though girls are believed to be the chief victims of this social evil, the survey notes that a larger number of males are getting married before the legal age (21 years).

Among girls, the mean age of marriage varies from 19.7 in Rajasthan to 22 years in Uttarakhand. The number of marriages below the legal age of 18 years ranges from 3 per cent in Uttarakhand to 22 per cent in Rajasthan.

In rural Rajasthan, every fourth marriage of girls, and in Bihar and Jharkahnd every fifth marriage takes place below the legal age.  The survey found that in 164 out of 284 districts, women have more than three children, the highest being in Shrawasti district in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Only 66 districts achieved the desired level of low fertility.

Even though institutional delivery has increased, more than 50 per cent of the deliveries take place in private clinics and hospitals in Jharkhand. Institutional delivery is below 60 per cent in 170 districts and the worst scenario prevails in UP’s Balrampur district.

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