A Mother Dies Every 2 Minutes: India’s Maternal Mortality Rate Speaks Of Our Failures

Posted on September 18, 2016 in Society

By Aishik Purkait:

As per a 2015 report by the United Nations Population Fund, around 830 mothers die every day due to childbirth or pregnancy causes which is about 2 deaths per minute.

Our long strive for “acche din” is still unsettled for when we essentially fail to realise what we should do for mothers out there fighting against all odds just to ensure that her unborn child sees the light of the day.

“During the last 20 years or so, India has grown much richer than Bangladesh. But during the same period, Bangladesh has overtaken India in terms of a wide range of basic social indicators,” Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and fellow economist Jean Drèze argued in their new book “An Uncertain Glory”.

Even after almost seven decades of independence in a time when India is considered to be the next big superpower in the world ecomony along with a colossal military power, we have essentially failed to ensure the basic right of every would-be mother i.e., to deliver her child with minimum complications.

Even though the Indian government has launched programs like the Janani Suraksha Yojana (Mothers Protection Initiative), which gives free transportation for pregnant women, ensures blood transfusion, provides medicines and other necessities and also pays close to INR 2000 if the delivery is carried out in a government hospital. The programs, however have failed to reach the grassroot level, making India the country with the highest number of maternal deaths. We have lacked in family planning, better health facilities, providing conditions good enough for a mother to deliver her child. This has made India a high-risk zone for delivering one’s child. Countries such as Nigeria have a lower maternal mortality rate. According to a UNICEF report, India forms around 20% of the total maternal deaths in the world. This is coupled with a maternal mortality ratio of 174 per 100000 births, 45000 maternal deaths , 280 AIDS-related indirect maternal deaths and 25, 794 live birth cases in 2015, as reported by the World Health Organisation.

What we need is better community programs to educate the people, especially for the rural mass, which forms around 67% of the population and implement programs which can reach out to people and help them.

Such programs are being carried out by several non-profit organisations, Child In Need Institute (CINI) being one of them. “CINI’s approach is to bring all the stakeholders’ together. We create a linkage between the government service providers and the pregnant mothers both during antenatal care (ANC) and postnatal care (PNC) periods. One aspect of our work is to strengthen and support the government facilities available for the pregnant mother. We also work together with the ‘Rogi Kalyan Samity’, by helping them make plans to improve the conditions of the government health facilities” said Ranjan Panda, the Deputy Director of Planning and Programme of CINI.

“As CINI is also the state secretariat for the White Ribbon Alliance India (WRAI), we network with NGOs and advocate the causes of better quality of care and better service delivery both at the grass root level and at the policy level.”

Even though the government has a dedicated fund for the cause, implementing those funds during crucial times has been the biggest dispute. On asked as to what the central and the state governments should do to help the cause, Mr Panda replied, “Both the central and the state government should better the implementation of their existing programmes by bringing all stakeholders together for the cause. Also they should ensure an accountability framework to be in place to respond to the need’.”

Organisations like these have, for the past several decades, worked to provide secure conditions to the pregnant mothers to deliver their child.

Ranjan then went on to talk about a special case they had handled, “A 22-year-old mother who got pregnant for the first time, had a very difficult pregnancy. She was suffering from high fever, headache, nausea and vomiting throughout the entire gestation period. Another problem was that since she belonged to a migration population, there was a high chance that she would not live in Kolkata. This meant that her care would not be proper. We continuously motivated and counselled her family to stay in Kolkata. We also made a lot of efforts to convince her to have an institution delivery. Her family agreed and she delivered a healthy baby.”

It is up to us to ensure that thousands of those unborn babies see the light of the day and do not become the part of a statistic we would not wish to see.