New Delhi: In yet another feather on Kerala’s cap, the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the state has declined considerably in the past six years, according to recent figures released by state health ministry. As per government data, the MMR has decreased to 40 (maternal death per 1,00,000 lakh live births), when six years ago it was 66. Two years ago, the MMR rate in Kerala state was 46, according to the report by the NITI Aayog, a central government think-tank.
With this development, this South Indian state has once again proved that its social development indicators are stronger than many states across the country, which is a reflection of the sustainable development model being followed by Kerala wherein more importance is given to the public and social service sectors.
According to Kerala health minister, K K Shailaja Teacher, the state is on a mission to achieve the sustainable development goal (SDG) by decreasing the MMR rate to 30 in 2020 and to 20 in 2030.
As of now, Kerala has the lowest maternal deaths in the country, whereas the national average of MMR is 130. This year, the Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) of the state also dipped to 10 from 12 (number of deaths per 1,000 live births.)
An order published by the Health and Family Welfare Department of Kerala that aims to achieve its SDG goal by decreasing MMR states that “the initiatives taken up includes improvement in maternal care and delivery services, the confidential audit of the maternal deaths as per the international standards to improve the standards of care by identifying correctable missing links in the health system or professional practice”. Added to this is the fact that the data collection system in the state is “more professional”.
V P Paily, senior consultant and head of department -- obstetrics and gynaecology in the Rajagiri Hospital, who is part of the government mission, told Newsclick: “Mainly we have done data analysis of all cases of pregnancy deaths or death during delivery in the state to find out the cause of death without revealing the name of the hospital, doctor and patient. We called it “confidential review on maternal deaths”, and are auditing these to find out the cause of deaths. This analysis helps us handle cases better.” He said that bleeding was reported to be the leading cause of such deaths, “so with this detailed study on past examples, now we can analyse how to deal with such cases. Additionally we are also studying cases of the nearness patients ie, cases of serious patients are also auditing.”
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The strong public healthcare system in Kerala as also the high level of education and literacy among people are proving to be a boon in creation of awareness about pregnancy-related issues.
Paily said: “Previously we had done this study at the state level, now we decentralised it into district levels. We are conducting a monthly meeting for the analysis with participation from district-level gynaecologists, which include doctors in both private and government hospitals. In addition, a ‘rapid response team’ in every hospital has been created to tackle any complications during delivery.Training for the teams is going on.”
Studies shows that malnutrition among pregnant women was among the major reasons for maternal death. Even though Kerala does not face major issues related with starvation, it is witnessing issues related to malnutrition. In 2017, the state was selected by the UN’s World Food Programme to eradicate malnutrition and take initiative for a hunger-free state. With the support of local self-government bodies, the state health department has now initiated programmes for supplying nutritious food, which are working efficiently.
The collective efforts of government initiatives under AARDRAM Mission such as Aardram Mathruthwam and Amoolya Balyam, with support from gynaecologists and nurses working in the labour room, nursing assistants and other staff of the Kerala Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
The ruling Left Democratic Front government has increased focus on the health sector through the AARDRAM project, part of Nava Kerala (New Kerala) mission. Under this project, the state government has already changed 230 primary health centres into family health centres, with the support of Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.
This year, the announcement from the National Quality Assurance Standards on best hospitals in India, put a stamp on the strength of public health sector of Kerala, with hospitals of Kerala occupying the first five ranks. The Kayyur family health centre was also selected as the best primary health centre in India.
(Written by Sachin CS, who is an intern with Newsclick)
Also read; https://www.newsclick.in/keralas-hridyam-mission-support-children-heart-problems-makes-rapid-strides