Maternal mortality: India likely to miss MDG target

Infant mortality in India is higher than that of neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal

 
By Kundan Pandey
Published: Monday 17 August 2015

Expectant mother at an additional public health centre in Mamna village in Sareela block in Hamirpur in Uttar Pradesh (Photo by Ankur Paliwal)

It is almost certain that India is going to miss the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) for reducing maternal mortality.

According to the latest report of the Registrar General of India’s Sample Registration System (RGI-SRS; the sole source of data for fertility and mortality in India), the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in India has registered a decline from 212 per 100,000 live births in the period 2007-09 to 178 in 2010-12. It has declined further to 167 per 100,000 live births in the period 2011-13. This means an estimated 44,000 maternal deaths (death of a woman during pregnancy or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy) occur in the country every year.

 Under MDG 5, the target is to reduce MMR by 75 per cent between 1990 and 2015. Based on the United Nations’ Inter-Agency Expert Group’s MMR estimates in the publication, Trends in Maternal Mortality: 1990 to 2013, India’s target for MMR is 140 per 100,000 live births by 2015, taking a baseline of 560 per 100,000 live births in 1990.
 
Union health minister J P Nadda stated in Rajya Sabha on Tuesday that if MMR declines at the same pace, India will reduce MMR to 140 per 100,000 live births by 2015.

But the decline in MMR has remained stagnant since 2006 in India. Between 2006 and 2009, MMR declined by 16.5 per cent, while from 2009 to 2012, it declined by 16.03 per cent.

SRS data shows that that so far only three states—Kerala with an MMR of 66 per 100,000 live births, Tamil Nadu with an MMR of 90 and Maharashtra with an MMR of 87—have been able to achieve the millennium development goal. Andhra Pradesh is close to achieving the target with an MMR of 110. Going by the trend, most other states will not be able to achieve the target. India, as whole, is also lagging behind.

Infant mortality in India is also high. Even neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal are better off. As per SRS 2013, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) in India is 40 per 1,000 live births, which means an estimated 1.068 million children of age one year and below die in the country annually. The comparative figures for Bangladesh and Nepal are much lower at 33 and 32 respectively.

As per SRS 2013, the neonatal mortality rate in India is 28/1000 live births, which means that estimated 747,000 newborns die within first four weeks of birth every year in the country.


Trends in maternal mortality: 1990 to 2013

State of the World’s Mothers 2014: saving mothers and children in humanitarian crises

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