Source: Times of India
Despite maternal mortality rate coming down to half worldwide since 1990, India accounts for 15 per cent of such casualties during pregnancy and childbirth with 45,000 maternal deaths in 2015, according to a new global report by Lancet which points out international as well as national disparities in maternal healthcare services.

Despite making significant progress in reducing its maternal mortality by 69 per cent since 1990, India along with Nigeria accounted for one-third of the global maternal deaths in 2015, the report says while attributing it to a yawning gap in maternal healthcare between urban and rural areas. The report also highlights global inequalities by pointing at varying maternal mortality across countries. It shows that the gap between the group of countries with the lowest and highest rates of maternal mortality has doubled between 1990 and 2013.

Globally, the annual number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births dropped by 44 per cent between 1990 and 2015, from 385 to 216. The sub-Saharan African region accounted for an estimated 66 per cent (201,000) of global maternal deaths, followed by southern Asia at 22 per cent (66,000 deaths). In fact, only 5 per cent of the world's countries accounted for 59 per cent of the total maternal deaths globally. "However, alongside the increasing gaps between different countries, the potential for growing inequities within countries also exists, spatially in terms of rural and urban areas or remote districts, and between population subgroups," the report further says. The report - a series of six papers published in the Lancet - analysed different aspects and issues of maternal health globally.

Despite improvement in coverage of institutional deliveries and skilled birth attendants, India has twice missed its millennium development goals to reduce maternal mortality rate by three quarters. Currently, India's maternal mortality rate stands at 174 and to achieve its next target, it needs to reduce it to 103.

Experts say that coverage of life saving interventions and inequity are two of the biggest hindrances in India for improving maternal healthcare. The health ministry has introduced as well as expanded coverage of various schemes to address these challenges, with its main focus on remote areas . It has also started some new schemes to provide care to the pregnant women at different stages of pregnancy.

By Sushmi Dey |

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