Saving mothers – Data on MMR should lead to restructuring health-care systems for women

Source: This post is based on the article “Saving mothers – Data on MMR should lead to restructuring health-care systems for women” published in The Hindu on 21st July 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health.

Relevance: Maternal Mortality Ratio.

News: A recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal, PLOS Global Public Health, casts a shadow on the progress of health care targeting women in the country. Further, it also questions the reliability of the country’s own periodic estimates of maternal mortality ratio, or MMR.

Note: MMR denotes the number of mothers who die from complications in pregnancy for every one lakh live births.

What are the key findings of the study?

Researchers from the International Institute for Population Sciences triangulated data from routine records of maternal deaths under the Health Management Information System, with Census data and the Sample Registration System (SRS) to provide the MMR for all States and districts of India.

-The analysis suggests that 70% of districts (448 out of 640 districts) in India have reported MMR above 70 deaths.

-Many of the districts in southern India and Maharashtra have an MMR of less than 70.

-The north-eastern and central regions have the least number of districts (12 and six districts, respectively) with an MMR less than 70.

Note: MMR of 70 is a target under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Read more: Maternal Mortality Ratio of India declines by 10 points
What is the significance of the study?

a) The analysis demonstrates the presence of huge within-State inequalities, even among the better performers — Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana, b) According to the SRS (2016-18), only Assam (215) has an MMR of more than 200. But this district-level assessment indicates that about 130 districts have reported above 200 MMR, c) The high MMR also indicates the inadequacy of responsiveness of health systems in India.

Read more: May all mothers live: on Maternal Mortality rate
How to reduce MMR in India?

There is adequate proof that focusing on the following things will help to reduce MMR. These include, a) Improvements in access to contraceptives, b) Focus on antenatal care, post-delivery health care, body mass index, c) Economic status, d) A concerted reduction of higher-order births, births in higher ages.

Hence, India should improve overall care for women, and keep real-time track of crucial health data. These urgent and intense actions can reduce MMR and help India to control eminently preventable deaths.

Must read: Maternal Mortality Ratio in India: Status, Challenges and Way Forward – Explained, pointwise
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