'Basic care key to stop maternal deaths'

In India, one in 13 children dies before his or her fifth birthday and a woman dies every five minutes due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.

The majority of these deaths could be prevented through easy and relatively inexpensive measures such as improved nutrition and access to basic healthcare for mothers and children, childhood immunisation and clean water and sanitation, said experts in a panel discussion.

Talking about some achievements of the country, it was pointed out that in 2010, the under five mortality was 63 per 1,000 live births, compared to 115 in 1990. Similarly, maternal mortality ratio (MMR) has come down to 200 per 100,000 live births in 2010 from 600 in 1990.

However, India is still short of meeting the millennium development goals. The MDG 4A aims at reducing child mortality by two-thirds by year 2015 and MDG 5 aims at decreasing MMR by three-quarters and achieving universal access to reproductive health.

The lead causes of death among children under the age of five are antenatal and postnatal complications, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea, pneumonia and measles. Neonatal conditions account for 45 per cent of all under five deaths.

The main causes of maternal mortality have been estimated to be post-partum haemorrhage, septicaemia and anaemia, all of which are preventable.

The discussion titled Nutrition Challenge in Indian Context and Commitments was organised by NGO World Vision India as part of the Global Week of Action.

Held in 40 countries from November 13-20, the week saw mobilisations of children and other stakeholders to ponder over the issue of child malnutrition and persisting challenges.

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