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India’s Maternal Mortality Ratio Improves to 103; West Bengal Worsens by 10 Points

The national level MMR decreased from 113 per 100,000 live births in 2016-18 to 103 in 2017-19.

India’s maternal mortality ratio (MMR) improved to 103 per 100,000 live births for the period 2017-19, according to a Times of India report that cited recent data from a special bulletin of sample registration system on maternal deaths. 

The National Health Mission’s 2017 goal was to decrease the national MMR to 100. The national level MMR was 113 per 100,000 live births as per SRS 2016-18. It further decreased to 103 in 2017-19, as per the latest bulletin. 

However, the MMR worsened in states like West Bengal, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Chhattisgarh. Populous states such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh showed major improvement with decrease in their MMR by 30, 23, 19 and 10 points, respectively.  These states continues to have high level MMRs despite the improvement. 

Maternal death is the  MMR is a key health indicator that shows the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births for a given period. According to the World Health Organization, “Maternal death is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes.” 

One of the targets under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) set by the United Nations aims to reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births. India now seems close to achieving that goal much before the target year of 2030. 

The top state with the lowest MMR is Kerala, which dramatically improved from 43 to 30. Kerala is followed by Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Maharashtra. Notably, none of these states are governed by the centrally ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. 

Among others, Madhya Pradesh reported an ten-point dip in maternal mortality ratio in 2017-19, according to a Times of India report. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR) in MP improved to 163 per 100,000 births in 2017-19. According to the sample registration system (SRS), the state had an MMR of 173 in 2016-18.  

Despite the dip in MMR, Madhya Pradesh, India’s second largest state by area, continues to be the third worst-performing state in this regard, following Assam (205) and Uttar Pradesh (167). Besides, more than 80% of births in MP took place in institutional facilities, according to National Family Health Survery (NFHS)-5.  

West Bengal registered an alarming 10-point jump in MMR, going from 98 to 109. The TOI report said the state has seen worsening MMR for the last three surveys.

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