India’s maternal mortality ratio drops below 100
Official data indicate that a milestone has been reached in a country that until a few years ago had one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. Now reducing the rate to under 70 is an achievable goal to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Still, regional differences persist among Indian states.
New Delhi (AsiaNews) – As the world turns its attention to the greatest of births at Christmas, there is good news from India that are worth mentioning.
According to the latest official survey for the 2018–2020 period, India’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) dropped below 100 for the first time, and now stands at 97 deaths from pregnancy-related issue per 100,000 births, a figure that is still very high, but decreasing rapidly.
In 1990 India’s MMR stood at 557 but was down to 175 in 2015. Considering that 24 million children were born in India in 2021, the drop means saving thousands of women as well as children.
Until a few years ago, India had one of the highest MMR in the world. The major improvement was made possible above all by extending the country’s network of childbirth facilities.
At present, far fewer Indian women give birth at home, and go instead to facilities where they can be provided with greater medical care, something crucial in case of complications.
However, this achievement only partially fulfils the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, which include reducing the MMR, but also poverty, malnutrition, and poor health conditions in every country in the world by 2030.
With respect to the MMR, the UN plan aims to reduce it to under 70 deaths per 100,000 births, and India is still a long way from that level. Given the country’s track record, this will be a difficult but not impossible goal.
The decisive challenge now is to make progress in the country’s poorer regions since official data present a picture with significant differences among Indian states.
If in some states like Kerala, the MMR is 19 (similar to that of the United States), in others, the situation is far worse.
For example, in Assam 195 women still die per 100,000 births, 173 in Madhya Pradesh, 167 in Uttar Pradesh (the most populous of the Indian states). Yet even in a state like Bihar, where the ratio fell to 112, 11 women still die for every 100,000 women of reproductive age during the same time period.
Experts note that by looking at single districts, one can see a strong correlation between deaths from childbirth and the fight against poverty and access to health facilities.
As for age, deaths from childbirth are concentrated is 20–24 age group (32 per cent), followed by 25–29 age group (30 per cent).
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