Kerala’s maternal mortality rate (MMR) has shown an impressive drop of 15 points from 2007-09 and now stands at 66, according to the latest Sample Registration Survey (SRS) report 2010-12 published by the Centre.
The State’s MMR, as per the SRS data of 2007-09, was 81 (per one lakh live births). India’s MMR too has dropped substantially by 34 points from 2007-09, when the MMR was 212, to 178 in the latest SRS report 2010-12.
Kerala continues to hold the distinction of having the lowest MMR in the country. Though States such as Uttar Pradesh, Utharakhand, and Rajasthan have brought in substantial reduction in MMR by over 60 points, the MMR of these States are still in three-digit numbers.
Senior officials of the Health Department, however, say that the SRS figures are still a long way off the State’s “actual” MMR, which they say is around 40.
“Our MMR of 40 is arrived at by looking at the actual number of deliveries happening in the State, by following up every ante-natal case using the Mother and Child Tracking System. SRS data are obtained through a survey methodology. The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare accepts only the SRS data and hence the official assessment of our MMR has always been way too high,” a senior official told The Hindu .
M. Beena, State Mission Director, National Health Mission, says the MMR reduction has always been centre to all the maternal and reproductive health programmes of the State and that it is heartening to note that the dip in MMR between the SRS of 2007-09 and 2010-12 is 19 per cent. This is against the 15 per cent reduction in MMR achieved by the State between the SRS of 2004-06 and 2007-09.
(Kerala’s MMR as per SRS data in 2004-06 was 95, in 2007-09 it was 81 and in 2010-12, it was 66).
‘‘This just goes to show that the State’s increased investments in the health sector in general, including the improvements in infrastructural facilities and the interventions in maternal and child health initiated through the NRHM, which began in 2005-06, have begun to pay off,” Dr. Beena says.
Last mile reduction of MMR and IMR has been among the priorities identified for the State in the 12th Plan. Health planners had pointed out earlier itself that there will be no scarcity of resources for the State’s health sector in the 12th Plan as there is a 322 per cent increase in the allocation for health over the 11th Plan
The Health Department has thus been hard at work launching several innovative strategies and quality improvement programmes to bring down maternal deaths. Ensuring 100 per cent institutional deliveries, reducing the number of C-section deliveries, improvements in ante-natal care, reduction of maternal deaths due to postpartum haemorrhage and pre-eclampsia, clinical protocols, and quality standards to improve delivery care are some of the major initiatives which has been launched in the area of maternal healthcare.
It would take another two years before the impact of these initiatives will reflect on the State’s MMR, officials say.