Kerala's maternal mortality rate drops to 46, govt aims 30 by 2020 -Vishnu Varma

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published Published on Jun 7, 2018   modified Modified on Aug 7, 2020
-The Indian Express

Dr Venugopal, an obstetrician and secretary general of KFOG, said the state's health apparatus showed progress as a result of 'systemic actions' adopted by doctors and government officials.

Kerala’s superior health infrastructure and its advances in improving delivery care facilities and nutritional level among pregnant women have resulted in further reduction of the maternal mortality rate (MMR) (proportion of maternal deaths per 1 lakh live births) in the state. According to latest figures released by the Office of the Registrar General of India, the MMR in the southern state, during the period 2014-16, dipped from 61 to 46, the lowest in the country.

The national MMR stands at 130, down from 167. However, with a belief that there is still ample ‘scope for improvement’, state health officials have designed new ambitious targets for the coming years: Reduce MMR to 30 by 2020 and 20 by 2030, in order to be at par with developed countries.

“It is doable, but we have to work really hard. Maternal mortality is not just connected to health but several other sectors as well. We have a standing group on the reduction of MMR with representatives from different sectors. Since many years, there has been a multi-disciplinary control group who have been working on these issues and we have developed standards to address many of these conditions,” Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan told

Among the areas, the government is trying to control the occurrence of rheumatic heart disease, especially among pregnant womenm Sadanandan said. While the condition is found rarely in children in Kerala at present, it proves to be a risk for pregnant women when they go into labour.

Another improvement area for the state is to reduce the pressure of deliveries on obstetricians and gynecologists working at tertiary centres like medical colleges. “One of the major problem is that deliveries do not take place at lower-level facilities in Kerala. The doctors refer all these cases to tertiary centres like medical colleges. So chances of sepsis (infection) increases because the number is unexpectedly high. So we are coming up with a protocol to ensure that unnecessary crowding doesn’t happen at medical colleges and doctors stick to that protocol,” Sadanandan said. He added that the government is focusing on upgrading dedicated ambulance services, keeping in mind increasing number of cases of pregnant women dying in road accidents.

The significant reduction in Kerala’s MMR is attributed to the efforts of Kerala Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (KFOG), a group of some of the leading doctors from various hospitals in the state. The KFOG began a process known as Confidential Review of Maternal Deaths (CRMD) in 2004, with the support of World Health Organisation and the Kerala government, to comprehensively analyse the leading causes of maternal deaths in the state and prepare standard protocols to reduce the number.

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The Indian Express, 7 June, 2018,

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