Lieutenant Governor Iqbal Singh on Thursday inaugurated the eight national-level conference on “Women Entitlement-Midwives Accountability” organised by the Puducherry chapter of Society of Midwives India (SOMI) here.
Addressing the participants, Mr. Singh said that India had the largest number of births per year (27 million) in the world. It was estimated that 60 per cent of such births were domiciliary deliveries. He said that according to a UNICEF report, as many as 80,000 pregnant women or new mothers died each year from preventable causes.
Mr. Singh said that one of the reasons attributable to this high mortality rate was the lack of qualified midwives for providing locally accessible and skilled delivery care for rural women.
This was particularly important as not many people could afford professional medical help.
He said that other reasons for maternal deaths included child bearing age, short birth intervals, nutritional status of such women, economic circumstances and cultural practices and beliefs.
The presence of qualified midwives who were sensitive to local cultural and social practices would be able to address most of the causes attributed to high maternal mortality rates by creating awareness, he said.
Calling the system of midwives in the country as a “well established and trained system,” Mr. Singh said the profession needed to be revitalised and more trained people deployed in rural areas.
Director of Health and Family Welfare Dilip Kumar Baliga said that though the contribution of a number of sectors to economic growth had been significant; the health sector had done very little. Though India produced more doctors that any other country, 50 per cent of maternal deaths in the world happened in India, he said.
Despite health problems in the country being studied by the best of minds, he said the workforce that implemented the recommendations had not been taken into confidence. This was reflected in the fact that India had not been able to achieve even 40 per cent of the millennium targets in the health sector which includes reduction of maternal mortality rate by 75 per cent.
Earlier, a national campaign of SOMI to create awareness of various such as anaemia prevention was launched.