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Post-2013: India’s Remarkable Progress in Securing the Lives of Mothers

Maternal Mortality Ratio

India has registered a 26.9% decline in Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) since 2013 according to the Sample Registration System Bulletin-2016 released by the Registrar General of India.  From 167 in 2011-13, MMR has now come down to 122 in 2015-2017.

Maternal Mortality Ratio is defined as the annual number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

Maternal deaths require a large sample size to provide robust estimates. In order to enhance the sample size of the Sample Registration System, the results were derived by following the practice of pooling three years’ data to yield reliable estimates of maternal mortality. Thus, the data which has been arrived is quite accurate.

Improved Metrics across all states

To understand the maternal mortality situation in the country better and to map the changes that have taken place, especially at the regional level, the government has categorised states into three groups – EAG, southern states and “other” states.

  • Empowered Action Group (EAG) states comprising Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Uttarakhand, and Assam. This group had seen the most significant reduction in MMR.
  • Southern states comprise of Kerala, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Out of these states, Kerala, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have already met the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of MMR below 70. While Andhra Pradesh and Telangana are within striking distance of achieving the same.
  • Other states which contain other states and Union territories have also reduced MMR from 93 to 90.
The World Took Note

The fact that India is having remarkable progress in securing the lives of mothers was already recognised by world bodies. Long before the present report, in 2018 World Health Organisation (WHO) appreciated India for its ground-breaking progress in reducing MMR in recent years. WHO also said this remarkable reduction in MMR has put India on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of an MMR below 70 by 2030.

WHO acknowledged key measures which the government took for the reduction in MMR.

WHO Credited Indian Government’s massive push to increase access to quality maternal health services and ensure institutional delivery of pregnancy through programs like Ayushman Bharat has bridged the gap between Rural and Urban institutional deliveries.  Overall, 75% of rural births are now supervised, as compared to 89% of urban deliveries.

It also credited campaigns such as the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan which allows women access to antenatal check-ups, obstetric gynecologists and to track high-risk pregnancies and said this is exactly what is needed to make further gains and achieve the SDG targets and has indeed had a great impact on improving maternal health.