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Lancet: India records decline in maternal mortality rate

India,one of the six countries that account for 50 per cent of the maternal deaths worldwide,has reduced the Maternal Mortality Ratio...

Written by Teena Thacker | New Delhi |
April 13, 2010 10:58:08 pm

India,one of the six countries that account for 50 per cent of the maternal deaths worldwide,has reduced the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) by four per cent a year since 1990,more than double the global average,says a study published in the online edition of Lancet.

The study,‘Maternal Mortality for 181 countries,1980-2008: A systematic analysis of progress toward millennium development Goal 5’ says India is one of the few countries — others being Egypt,Romania,Bangladesh and China — that have recorded “substantial decline” in MMR. In 1980,India reported about 677 maternal deaths (the death of women during pregnancy,childbirth or in the 42 days after delivery) per 1,00,000 live births but in 2008,this was down to 254 deaths. This means India has climbed from near bottom to 127th place in the MMR ratings,above Pakistan and just below Nepal.

Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation,the study conducted by Dr Christopher Murray and his colleagues at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation,University of Washington,says that between 1980 and 2008,maternal deaths declined worldwide. While an estimated 5,26,300 maternal deaths were recorded worldwide in 1980,the number of such deaths dropped to about 3,42,900 in 2008,declining by 1.5 per cent a year.Nearly one out of every five maternal deaths (a total of 61,400 in 2008) could be linked to HIV.

Interestingly,even though it remains small (17 in 2008),there has been a 42 per cent increase in MMR in the US since 1990 (when it was 12). MMR has also increased in Canada,Norway,Austria and Singapore among rich nations and Afghanistan and Zimbabwe among the poor ones.

The report says 21 countries,including India,account for nearly 80 per cent of all maternal deaths and only 23 countries are on track to achieve the target of lowering MMR by 75 per cent between 1990 and 2015.

Maldives,the report says,was the best performing country with an annual MMR drop of 8.8 per cent between 1990 and 2008 while Zimbabwe was the worst with an annual MMR increase of 5.5 per cent over the same period.

The countries which had the lowest MMR in 2008 were Italy (4),Luxembourg and Sweden (5),Germany and Spain (7),UK (8) and France (10). On the other hand,Afghanistan had 1,575 maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births in 2008,about 394 times higher than that of Italy.

The researchers analysed vital registration data,censuses,surveys and verbal autopsy studies and created newmethodological tools to generate the most accurate estimates to date of maternal mortality for nearly every country.

According to Union Health Ministry officials,the Lancetreport “can act as an encouragement for all those working hard to bring down the numbers further. “A latest report by UNICEF put us below Thailand and Sri Lanka. This study is,therefore,good news for many,” said an official.

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