More than 50 women die of delivery related complications in the district every year

Celebrations to mark International Women’s Day on Friday were overshadowed by dismal statistics relating to maternal mortality.

More than 50 women die every year in Madurai district from pregnancy related complications. Anaemia among women has been cited as a primary causative factor.

The data available with Health Department officials here indicate that maternal mortality occurs not only in the rural areas but also in Madurai Corporation limits.

While the district’s maternal mortality rate was 68 in the year 2010-11, it was 58 in 2011-12. For the current year ( 2012-13), the number stood at 49 till February.

If a woman dies during pregnancy or delivery, or within 42 days after delivering a baby, it constitues maternal mortality.

“Definitely we are concerned about maternal deaths because it is an indicator of how effective our overall health system is. In the last few years thrust was given to maternal care through pregnancy-focused schemes and the Health Department is committed to preventing mortality,” S. Senthilkumar, Deputy Director of Health Services, told The Hindu on Friday.

Though the district had ensured almost 100 per cent institutional deliveries, deaths are happening in both Government and private hospitals.

Postpartum haemorrhage, anaemia and high blood pressure were cited as threatening factors.

“Maternal deaths have drastically come down in recent years and the challenge is to reduce them further. District Collector Anshul Mishra has been insisting in review meetings that the mother should go for delivery at the right time to a right hospital,” the Deputy Director said.

In the Madurai Corporation area, 16 maternal deaths were reported in the last two years while there was no mortality in Melur and Thirumangalam municipalities.

S. Elango, former Director of Public Health, Government of Tamil Nadu, is shocked at the high rate of maternal mortality in urban areas.

“It is very high and that too in a city where more private hospitals are available along with good transport and communication facilities. The Corporation should focus on bringing down mortality rate.”

“Most of maternal deaths are preventable provided there is good ante natal care during pregnancy period,” he said.

Balanced diet and nutritious food during pregnancy assume importance.

Public health officials are stressing the importance of iron folic tablets, vegetables, greens, milk and protein-rich food.

“The focus on women’s health must begin during adolescence ,” says Dr. Senthilkumar.

According to him, village health service nurses and doctors in the primary health centres have been sensitised to be careful with high-risk cases and try to anticipate complications without delay.

“Early referral to well-equipped hospitals is of paramount importance. The golden period should not be lost at the time of labour pains. Our appeal to families too is that as the delivery due date approaches, they have to be alert,” he advised women.

The availability of ‘108’ ambulance service at vital points in the district is considered a big advantage to create connectivity among hospitals.

“The farther the distance, the higher the risk. So pregnant women should be shifted to the nearest hospital quickly,” the Deputy Director cautioned.

The health indicators of women in the below poverty line category have improved thanks to schemes such as Dr. Muthulakshmi Reddy Maternity Assistance Scheme. Convergence meetings of Comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (CEMONC) centres are being conducted regularly to identify referral cases.