India doing well in reducing maternal mortality: UNICEF

“India ranks 25th among the countries in terms of percentage decline in maternal mortality rates, reducing it by 59 percent since 1990. There is no dispute that India has done well in reducing maternal mortality,” Unicef Chief of Communication in India Angela Walker told IANS.

The "Trends in Maternal Mortality" report released by the WHO, Unicef, UNFPA and the World Bank Sep 15 says India recorded the world's highest number of maternal deaths in 2008 at 63,000, more than countries like Nigeria, Congo, Afghanistan and Ethiopia.

This is despite of the fact that India's MMR (Maternal Mortality Rate) stood at 230 per one lakh population in 2008, down from 570 in 1990, 390 in 2000 and 280 in 2005, the report said. This is a 59 percent drop in maternal mortality levels.

“According to these new set of estimates, in 2008 India had a MMR of 230 and ranked 116th among 171 countries for which estimates are available in the report. India is now ranked above Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan which have MMRs of 380, 340 and 260 respectively. The MMR for the Sub-Saharan countries for 2008 is estimated to be 640,” she said.

Walker clarified that the higher absolute number was due to the high number of live births.
“MMR is expressed in terms of 100,000 live births, and India has the highest number of live births in the world being 27 million. China ranks second with annual estimated live births of 18 million followed by Nigeria at six million. This largely explains why India has the largest number of maternal deaths in the world (63,000 in 2008),” Walker said.

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