India is set to meet target on reducing maternal mortality

BMJ 2015; 350 doi: (Published 09 February 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h724
  1. Cheryl Travasso
  1. 1Mumbai

India seems to be on track to achieve its millennium development goal of reducing maternal mortality by 75% from 1990 to 2015, figures have shown.

Data from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare1 showed that maternal mortality in India fell from 560 deaths in every 100 000 live births2 in 1990, to 301 in 100 000 during 2001-03 and to 167 in 100 000 during 2011-13.

In 2000 a total of 189 countries pledged to transform several aspects of health, and these aims came to be known as the millennium development goals. One of the eight goals was to improve maternal health, which included reducing the maternal mortality ratio by three quarters from 1990 to 2015.3 4

Dinesh Baswal, deputy commissioner of maternal health at India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, told The BMJ that a 75% reduction in the maternal mortality ratio from 1990 to 2015 would require a drop from 560 to 140 in 100 000 live births. Given that the ratio’s current compound annual rate of decline is over 5% India should reach the target by 2015, he said.

Certain states have shown better progress than others in reducing this ratio. For example, Maharashtra has seen a drop from 87 in 100 000 live births in 2010-12 to 68 in 2011-13, while Tamil Nadu has seen a fall from 90 to 79 in 100 000. The lowest maternal mortality ratio is in Kerala, at 61 in 100 000 live births in 2011-13. However, regions such as Assam, Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand, and Rajasthan have ratios of 300, 285, and 244, respectively, in 100 000 live births.1 5

Baswal credited the decline in the maternal mortality ratio to a number of factors, including the launch of the National Rural Health Mission in 2005 to increase staffing levels and improve the infrastructure in rural hospitals,6 and of the National Urban Health Mission in 2013, which focused on better meeting the healthcare needs of urban poor people.

He said that the ministry has several other plans that will be put in place shortly to ensure a continuing decline in maternal mortality. These will include specific programmes to improve the detection and management of gestational diabetes, strategies for deworming, calcium supplementation, and screening for infections such as HIV and syphilis, he said.


Cite this as: BMJ 2015;350:h724


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