Like many other countries around the globe, India is growing acutely aware of its ability to control its own fate. And to that end, it’s taking steps to address some of its most pressing challenges, including caring for the welfare of its people. Child mortality and maternal health are at the forefront of the country’s efforts, and India is now in a race against time to achieve objectives in these two areas included in the U.N.’s eight Millennium Development Goals* (MDGs), which were established around the premise of creating a life of dignity for all. As per the charter, India aims to reduce maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to 109 from 390 per 100,000 live births in 2000.
An estimated 47,000 pregnant women or new mothers die each year in India, often from preventable causes including haemorrhage, sepsis and anaemia. Against the backdrop of the MDGs’ key performance indicators, which range from the eradication of poverty and hunger to the promotion of gender equality and the need to improve health care for expecting mothers, the three states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Assam were identified as low performing under the National Rural Health Mission as the rate of institutional delivery in the states was less than 25 percent. In fact, these states contribute to the majority of maternal deaths in India.
Delivered With Success
In several parts of the country, especially in rural India, the practices around pregnancy and childbirth remain steeped in unawareness and misconceptions. Delivering a child at home is a common practice and lack of hygienic practices poses a threat to both mother and child.
In order to achieve the required level of reduction in maternal mortality and infant mortality, a scheme called Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY) or Safe Motherhood Scheme was launched in 2005. Under JSY, each eligible woman is tracked from the time of her pregnancy and care is provided to her on a continuous basis. Every pregnant woman registered under the scheme receives at least three ante-natal check-ups including tetanus toxoid injections and IFA (iron, folic acid) tablets during the course of her pregnancy. During these interactions, she is encouraged by the health personnel to deliver in a health institution.
So, how has JSY helped India towards achieving the MMR target under the Millennium Development Goals? As per the Office of Registrar General of India, there was a sharper decline in MMR during 2003- ‘06 (16%) and 2006-‘09 (17%) compared to 8 percent decline during 2001-‘03. At the current pace, India will be able to achieve an MMR of 139 per 100,000 live births by 2015; whereas at the pre-JSY pace, the numbers would have been well above 200 by the landmark year.