Maternal Mortality down but nowhere close to MDG target

Maternal Mortality down but nowhere close to MDG target

A nation's prosperity is determined to a large extent by the health care received by its female population. India's maternal mortality is down but we still have miles to go before we come close to achieving the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets (Please see the links and graph below).

The latest available figures released by the Office of Registrar General (India) provide some interesting trends on maternal health indicators. It reveals that Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR)* has declined by 16 percent from 212 during 2007-09 to 178 during 2010-12.

However, given the historical trend, India’s MMR is likely to reach 140 per 100,000 live births by 2015, missing the MDG-5 target of 109 per 100,000 live births by 31 points, depicts ‘MDG India Country Report 2014' of Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation (MoSPI). (Please see below).
Maternal Mortality Ratio Trends
Among other factors, maternal mortality is determined by low literacy, lack of spacing between births, early age at marriage & child bearing, high parity (i.e. number of liveborn children a woman has delivered), cultural misconceptions, economic dependency of women etc. Although safe motherhood depends chiefly on delivery by trained /professional personnel, particularly through institutional facilities, India is a laggard on this front. Delivery attended by skilled personnel is likely to be 77.29 percent by 2015, which is far short of the targeted universal coverage.

As per the data released by Office of Registrar General, MMR is lowest in Kerala (66) and highest in Assam (328). During 2010-12, MMR is higher than the national level estimate in Bihar/ Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh/ Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh/ Uttarakhand and Assam. (Please see the graph below).

MMR states
Source: Office of Registrar General, Sample Registration System (2010-12)

Maternal Mortality Rate** at the national level stood at 12.4 while among the Southern states, consisting of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, it stood at 5.9, thus, exhibiting the huge gap in maternal healthcare. The Maternal Mortality Rate is lowest in Kerala (3.3) and highest in Uttar Pradesh/ Uttarakhand (28.7) in 2010-12.

MMRate states
Source: Office of Registrar General, Sample Registration System (2010-12)

During 2010-12, maternal deaths are highest in the age group 20-24 years (39%) followed by 25-29 years (28%), whereas the corresponding figures for 2007-09 were 36% and 27%, respectively, as per the MoSPI report on MDGs.

The country has undertaken the following schemes/ steps to check maternal mortality, says the MoSPI report:

a. Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY)
b. Quality Antenatal, Intranatal and Postnatal care
c. Operationalisation of the health facilities for provision of Basic Emergency Obstetric Care (BeMOC) and Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric Care (CEmOC) services
d. Delivery Points
e. Capacity building of health care providers
f. Referral Services at both Community and Institutional level
g. Comprehensive Abortion Care services
h. Services for Reproductive & Tract Infections (RTI /STI)
i. Outreach activities
j. Engagement of Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) to generate demand and facilitate accessing of health care services by the community
k. Mother Child Tracking System (MCTS)
l. Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakaram (JSSK)
m. Maternal Death Review (MDR)
n. Maternal and Child Health Wings
o. Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY)


* Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR): It is the number of women who die as a result of complications of pregnancy or childbearing in a given year per 100,000 live births in that year.

** Maternal Mortality Rate: It is defined as the number of maternal deaths to women in the ages 15-49 per lakh of women in that age group.


A Presentation on Maternal Mortality Levels (2010-12), Office of Registrar General, India, 20th December 2013 (Please click here to download)

Decline in Rates of Maternal and Infant Mortality, Press Information Bureau, 11 February, 2014

Millennium Development Goals: India Country Report 2014, MoSPI,
Image Courtesy: Millennium Development Goals: India Country Report 2014, MoSPI,

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