‘Process of determining cause of death, accountability has undergone change'

Although Dakshina Kannada stands fairly high in terms of providing healthcare, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) and the infant mortality rate (IMR) in the district has been rising over the past three years, Deputy Commissioner V. Ponnuraj has said.

He was speaking during the inauguration of a soft skills training programme for nurses at the Regional Advanced Paediatric Care Centre here on Wednesday. However, after reviewing the health scenario in the district, Mr. Ponnuraj clarified that the increase was due to increased reporting of deaths and not an actual rise in mortality.

Reproductive and Child Health Officer Rukmini M. said that since the implementation of the National Rural Health Mission in 2006, there had been substantial improvement in reporting and recording the maternal and infant mortality rates. The process of determining the cause of death and accountability had also undergone a change. In 2007-08 the MMR was 36 in the district. “Under the target set by NRHM, the MMR in the country should be below 100 by 2012. How is it possible that the MMR was so low during that year,” she asked.


Mr. Ponnuraj said that in the wake of the increase in reporting maternal deaths, the district administration would soon issue guidelines to both government and private medical establishments mandating certain infrastructure to conduct deliveries.

He also said that the district administration would monitor every pregnancy so that the woman could be provided with the necessary ante-natal care. In the cases that were reviewed at the meeting, it was found that one or two women had avoided ante-natal care, Mr. Ponnuraj said.

District Programme Managing Officer Arun Kumar said that primary health centres would be allowed to conduct normal deliveries. If they lacked infrastructure such as blood storage facility, ventilators and specialists, they would not be allowed to conduct caesarean section deliveries. Mr. Kumar added that the implementation of the Karnataka Private Medical Establishments Act, 2007 in the district would be an additional advantage.

According to figures available with the Reproductive and Child Health Officer, the MMR (ratio of the number of maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births) was 110.2 during 2009-10, up from 81 during the previous year. In 2007-08, it was 36. In the last two months eight women have died .

The IMR (number of deaths of infants per 1,000 live births) fell to 10.90 during 2009-10 from 11.30. However, it remained at 11.70 and 11.20 for 2007-08 and 2006-07 respectively. In 2005-06 the IMR stood at 10.20.

Soft skills training

The Regional Advanced Paediatric Care Centre has launched a soft skills training programme for its nursing staff in order to help them improve their interaction with families in the backdrop of a “highly emotional” atmosphere.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Ponnuraj said that programmes such as this would help the staff at government hospitals serve patients better.

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