Bhopal, March 2 Madhya Pradesh accounts for 10 percent of all maternity related deaths in India, says a new study. The reasons for this are many including lack of transport or access to proper medical facilities as well as absence of planning for delivering babies.
So says a UNICEF facilitated study by the state's health department. 'Shortage of medicines at health centres and the disinterested attitude of the medical staff also add to the problem,' adds the study. 'Madhya Pradesh reports 10 percent of maternal deaths in the country while India reports 20 percent of maternal deaths in the world,' said UNICEF state head Hamid El Bashir, speaking to IANS. Though the state has launched many schemes, such as promoting institutional deliveries, to arrest maternal mortality especially among the poor and those belonging to Dalits and tribals, a sustained commitment was required, say experts and activists working in the field.
The study was carried out in August 2006 in seven districts with high institutional child delivery rates and seven with low rates. It covered 1,705 women, of whom 934 had institutional deliveries. The rest had home delivery. The districts covered under the first category were Indore, Ujjain, Bhopal, Japalpur, Panna, Umaria and Gwalior and those under the second included West Nimar, Ratlam, Betul, Chhattarpur, Sidhi and Bhind.
With a maternal mortality rate (MMR) of 379, Madhya Pradesh is among the six worst affected states in the country. Approximately 27 to 30 women die every day in the state within 42 days of delivery. Complications during pregnancy and unsafe abortions are among the main reasons for the rising MMR. While institutional deliveries rose from 27 percent in 2004-05 to 35 percent in 2005-06, low awareness about various schemes for pregnant women, lack of planning for deliveries and unavailability of medicines at health centers were some of the impediments that still needed to be tackled on a priority basis. Only eight percent women interviewed had planned where to go for delivery and over 75 percent women had to buy medicines. 'Fifty percent women cited transport problems and cost of hospital delivery as reasons for preferring home delivery,' the study pointed out.
Bashir told IANS that the civil society needed to engage communities at a high level to push accountability within the system to help women and children get a better deal.