The Centre has identified 250 backward and inaccessible districts where mothers and newborns would be provided targeted help to reduce the mortality rate.

The 250 districts, in mainly backward States, account for one-third of the country’s population and would be funded for the scheme through the National Rural Health Mission, officials sources said.

The scheme, which was announced by Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad, has been launched as part of a renewed focus worldwide to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

The pledges were taken by various nations at the partner’s forum on women and children’s health, which concluded its two-day session on Sunday, Health Secretary Sujatha Rao told reporters in New Delhi on Monday.

The forum also adopted a Delhi declaration which included pledges to work with governments and other key stakeholders to transform into action the pledges made in the global strategy.

The document said the countries would act on the emerging consensus on priority, evidence-based interventions, and ensure that these are articulated in the form of national plans and implemented equitably at scale through the continuum of care, in order to achieve the agreed results for women’s, newborn and children’s health.

A core set of indicators were integrated into country monitoring and evaluation mechanisms, so that all partners are accountable for the commitments and results agreed to in the global strategy.

Dean Julio Frenk of Harvard School of Public Health said though India has made a rapid progress as far as economic growth is concerned, it is still one of the few countries which have the highest maternal and infant mortality rates.

The conference, he said, also called for linking maternal health with other life threatening diseases like AIDS and Tuberculosis.

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