OTHER STATES

Rajasthan presents a bleak record in maternal health

Special Correspondent

13 children die every hour before their first birthday



While the State contributes to about 7 p.c. of the total live births in the country, it also accounts for 9.2 p.c. of total maternal deaths

Maternal mortality is 445 per one lakh births, which is third after Uttarakhand and Assam



JAIPUR: In a shocking eye-opener, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has revealed that on an average 13 children die every hour in Rajasthan before their first birthday. Besides, at least one woman loses her life every hour in the State due to complications arising out of pregnancy and child birth.

UNICEF made these revelations while releasing its report on “The State of the World’s Children-2009” at a workshop on the UN Millennium Development Goals with special reference to maternal health here over the weekend.

Complications

Presenting the “Maternal and Newborn Health Report” to a visibly disturbed Medical and Health Minister Aimaduddin Ahmed Khan, UNICEF State chief Samuel Mawunganidze said nearly 8,000 women and 1.17 lakh children die every year in the State due to complications.

Better States

The report says that while Rajasthan contributes to about 7 per cent of the total live births in the country, it also accounts for 9.2 per cent of the total maternal deaths. “States like Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh together contribute to 18 per cent of total live births in the country but only 10 per cent of the total maternal deaths,” it adds.

The report underlines the fact that out of the total infant mortality in the desert State, 76 per cent of the children die within one year of their birth and almost 40 per cent within seven days of birth.

Negligence

Mr. Mawunganidze, expressing distress at the findings, pointed out that most of the maternal and infant deaths were occurring because of negligence in the post-delivery and neo-natal care. “Health and survival of mothers and their newborns are intrinsically linked and call for identical interventions,” he added.

Lasting consequences

For every woman who died, another 20 suffered illnesses or injury, often with severe and lasting consequences, said Mr. Mawunganidze while calling for universally available skilled and institutional delivery arrangements.

The UNICEF report also points out that against 230 women becoming pregnant every hour in the State, the maternal mortality is 445 per one lakh births, which is third after 517 in Uttarakhand and 490 in Assam. The infant mortality ratio in Rajasthan is 69 per 1,000 births.

Govt. to take steps

Flabbergasted by the UNICEF findings, Mr. Khan said the State Government would take steps under the Janani Suraksha Yojana to reduce infant and maternal mortality and provide essential services at key points through a dynamic health system. He admitted that there was a “crucial link” between maternal and neo-natal survival.

Institutional deliveries

However, Principal Health Secretary R.K. Meena affirmed that the State had increased institutional deliveries from a mere 28 per cent in 2005-06 to approximately 70 per cent in 2008-09. He said the newborn care units and malnutrition treatment centres were functioning in the government hospitals in all 33 districts of the State.

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