Karnataka fails to reduce maternal mortality

Karnataka is at the bottom in reducing the maternal mortality in south India, but two of its neighbours – Tamil Nadu and Kerala – have achieved the UN Sustainable Development Goal target almost 12 years in advance.

Between 2011-13 and 2014-16, most of the states were able to cut down on the deaths of the mothers. In south, Kerala has a maternal mortality rate of 46 per 100,000 live births in 2014-16 as against 61 two years ago. Similarly, Tamil Nadu too improved its figure to 66 now from the 2011-13 statistics of 79.

It’s not that Karnataka hasn’t improved. According to the latest official data, the state has a MMR of 108 in 2014-16 as against 133 two years back.
But even with the improvement on 25 points, Karnataka comes at the bottom among the southern states. In the national ranking, Karnataka comes at the 9th position whereas Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana preceded it.

Last year, a study by researchers from RGUHS, Bengaluru and Uppsala University, Sweden, investigated the maternal mortality trend in Karnataka within a gap of six years and found considerable inter-district variation in maternal deaths.  “Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu already achieved the UN SDG target on maternal mortality. Other states are doing well too. Every year deaths of 44,000 mothers have been cut and the number of teenage mothers has nearly been halved,” Health Minister J P Nadda said on Monday at a press meet to highlight the achievements of the health ministry in the last four years.

A day before, WHO commended India for its groundbreaking progress in recent years in reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 77%, from 556 per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 130 in 2016. “India’s present MMR is below the Millennium Development Goal target (MDG target is 139) and puts the country on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of an MMR below 70 by 2030,” the WHO says in a statement.

According to the global health agency, the seeds of the change were sown in the last decade. “Since 2005, coverage of essential maternal health services doubled, while the proportion of institutional deliveries in public facilities almost tripled, from 18% in 2005 to 52% in 2016 (including private facilities, institutional deliveries now stand at 79%).”

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