WHO commends India for reducing maternal mortality ratio by 77%

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) has commended India’s progress in reducing maternal mortality ratio (MMR) by 77%, from 556 per 10000 live births in 1990 to 130 per 10000 live births in 2016. This progress puts India on track towards achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of MMR below 70 by 2030. India’s present MMR is below Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target.

Key Facts

India has made concerted push to increase access to quality maternal health services with coverage of essential maternal health services which has doubled since 2005. Proportion of institutional deliveries in public facilities has almost tripled, from 18% in 2005 to 52% in 2016 (including private facilities, institutional deliveries).

State-subsidised demand-side financing like Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK) has largely closed urban-rural divide traditionally seen in institutional births. JSSK also allows all pregnant women delivering in public health institutions free transport and no-expense delivery, including caesarian section.

Government has put significant emphasis on mitigating social determinants of maternal health. Women in India are now more literate than ever, with 68% are now able to read and write. They are also entering marriage at older age, with just 27% now wedded before age of 18. These factors have enabled Indian women to better control their reproductive lives and make decisions that reflect their own interests and wants.

Moreover, Government also has put in substantive efforts to facilitate positive engagement between public and private health care providers. Public campaigns such as Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan have been introduced with great impact, allowing women access to antenatal check-ups, obstetric gynecologists and to track high-risk pregnancies.