Centre asks states to bring maternal mortality rate down further

With India's maternal mortality ratio (MMR) dropping to a lower level signifying improvement in the health care delivery system, the Central government has now asked the states to further bring down the MMR among pregnant mothers to meet the national target by 2017 .

“All states are requested to take urgent steps so that the target of achieving MMR of 100 at the national level may be achieved by the end of the 12th Plan,” Union Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju has told the states in a letter, a copy of which is available with Deccan Herald.

Thanks to better health infrastructure and more deliveries in hospitals and health care centres, India's MMR has fallen to 178 deaths per 100,000 pregnant mothers in the 2010-12 period, a significant drop from an MMR of 212 in the previous three years.

However, India's achievement is still far short of New Delhi's commitment to the UN Millennium Development Goal in which India has a target of bringing down the MMR to 109 by 2015.

Kerala has the lowest MMR of 66, down from 81 in 2007-09 and 95 in 2004-06. Assam has the highest of 328, a fall from 390 and 480 in 2007-09 and 2004-06, respectively. UP is a close second to Assam with MMR of 292, down from 440 in 2004-06.

The lifetime risk -- the probability of death of a woman of reproductive age (15-49) due to child birth -- is also less in Kerala (0.1 per cent) while it is the highest in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand at one per cent.

The annual decline at the national level of the MMR was 5.7 per cent during 2007-09 to 2010-12 as compared to the annual decline of 5.8 per cent during 2004-06 to 2007-09, Desiraju said.

The figures are not that rosy for Karnataka as it has the highest MMR among South Indian states though it also recorded a fall during the 2010-12 period compared to 2007-09, according to the latest figures released by the Office of Registrar General and Census Commissioner.

Karnataka has an MMR of 144, which is down from 178 in 2007-09 and 213 in 2004-06. At present Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have an MMR of 90 and 110, respectively. Only Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra (87) has MMR below the 100 level.

Besides Assam, the worst performing states are from central and north India. The cumulative MMR of these states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh -- is a whopping 257, much more than the national average of 178. However, the latest figures have shown a significant decline from 375 in 2004-06 and 308 in 2007-09.

The four South Indian states on a cumulative level have the least MMR of 105 in the country.

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