India's maternal mortality ratio down 75% in less than 2 decades

Wednesday 14th December 2022 06:22 EST

India has brought down its maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to less than a quarter of the levels about two decades ago, outperforming almost all of its erstwhile peers, including neighbours like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Bhutan. The progress has been steady, an analysis of data from 2007-09 to 2018-20 shows.

The maternal mortality ratio in India was 400 around the turn of the century. India's MMR decreased from 212 in the sample survey in 2007–09 to 178 over a three-year period in 2010–12 and from 212 to 130 in 2014–16. Maternal mortality decreased by 25% to 97 between the SRS surveys in 2014–16 and 2018–20, demonstrating a consistent trend of declining maternal mortality.

However, states like West Bengal, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, and Punjab experienced a slower rate of reduction than the rest of the country. Additionally, the MMR levels in various Indian states range widely, from those of the least developed to those of the developed world.

India’s MMR (the number of maternal deaths during a given period of time per 100,000 live births) at 97 in 2018-20 is at the level of Nicaragua, a low middle income country, among the least developed countries in Central America. However, the current MMR of 167 in a state like Uttar Pradesh is more or less at par with that of war-torn Yemen in 2017 according to Unicef data.

India’s MMR is less than half of the world’s. MMR worldwide in 2017 was 221. Given that India accounts for one-fifth of all annual births worldwide, any improvement in this parameter there will have an impact on the global value. India is on track to meet the sustainable development goal (SDG) of 70 by 2030 thanks to the steady improvement.

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