The infant mortality rate (IMR) and maternal mortality rate (MMR) in 11 Maois-hit districts, including the Kalahandi-Balangir-Koraput (KBK) region, were alarming, Union Health Secretary Keshav Desiraju said.

Balangir tops IMR, among the 11 districts, with 98 per 1,000 live births followed by Kandhamal at 86 against the state average of 59.

Barring Balangir, the average MMR in the rest 10 districts is 297 per one lakh deliveries against the state average of 237. Balangir alone records MMR of 212 against one lakh deliveries, official sources said.

Mr. Desiraju reviewed functioning of the centrally sponsored National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) here.

District Collectors and Chief District Medical Officers of Koraput, Rayagada, Malkangiri, Gajapati, Kandhamal, Nabarangpur, Nuapada, Kalahandi, Sonepur, Boudh and Balangir attended the review meeting, the sources said.

The meeting discussed shortage of doctors, lack of maternity waiting homes and health centres, absence of proper road communication to shift serious pregnant women to nearest health centres and typical health behaviour of tribals wherein they rely more on traditional healers than doctors.

Out of 4,359 doctor posts, 1,206 are lying vacant in the state. There are as many as 460 vacancies in these 11 districts.

“Doctors avoid joining duty citing various reasons, including the Maoist problem in the districts. An additional 906 doctor posts have been created. We hope the situation will improve once the recruitment process is over”, said State Health Secretary P. K. Mohapatra, who accompanied Mr. Desiraju.

The state government put up various proposals before Mr. Desiraju to improve the situation. Those include establishment of four auxiliary nurse midwife- and seven general nursing midwife-training centres in these 11 districts and additional incentives for doctors and paramedics over and above their salary.

The state also proposed construction of 100-bed maternity and child health wing in seven out of the 11 districts to ensure quality health services.