The State’s Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), which has been a cause of concern in the past, has seen a significant fall in the last three years. From 178 per lakh live births in the period between 2007 and 2009, the State’s MMR has come down to 144 in 2012, a decline of 34 percentage points.

Although the State is still behind Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, the rate of decline here is the highest in South India. While the rate of decline in Andhra Pradesh 24 percentage points, it has been seven and 15 in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, respectively, in the same period.

The latest Sample Registration Report of the Registrar-General of India that gives the new MMR estimates for the three-year period (2010-2012) was released in New Delhi on December 20.

Maternal deaths are defined as the number of women who die during pregnancy or within 42 days of the termination of pregnancy. The State sees nearly 12 lakh pregnancies every year.

According to the report, the new MMR estimate for the country shows an overall decline from 212 (in 2007-09) to 178 in 2012, resulting in saving lives of around 9,000 mothers per year.

It also shows a declining trend in all States.

M. Madan Gopal, Principal Secretary (Health and Family Welfare), told The Hindu on Wednesday that the decline in MMR means nearly 1,500 mothers were being saved now. “Although the numbers look insignificant, every mother’s life saved is precious,” he said. “If we sustain our efforts and incorporate a few policy changes, we can bring down MMR to less than 100 in the next three years,” he added.

Mr. Madan Gopal said, “The achievement was possible thanks to the integration of Central programmes such as Janani Suraksha Yojana that promotes institutional deliveries, 24 x 7 primary health centres, first referral units with the State’s programmes such as Madilu, Prasuti Araike, 108 Arogya Kavacha. The commitment and dedication of all our field functionaries have played a major role.”

According to the report, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra have achieved the country’s maternal health Millennium Development Goal (MDG) which is 109 per one lakh live births by 2015.

While Kerala’s MMR stands at 66 per one lakh live births, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra’s MMR is 90 and 87, respectively.

The report has stated that India is 69 percentage points away from the MDG target. “Despite such an impressive decline for three periods in a row (2004-2006, 2007-2009 and 2010-2012), India is likely to miss the MDG target,” according to the report.

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