Kerala has maintained its position at the top as far as maternal and reproductive health is concerned by yet again recording the lowest maternal mortality ratio (MMR) of 42 in the country, according to the latest Sample Registration System (SRS) special bulletin on maternal mortality in India (2015-17), brought out by the Office of the Registrar General of India.
This is a small yet significant drop by four points from the previous SRS bulletin (2014-16) when the MMR (defined as the proportion of maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births) of the State had stood at 46. Maharashtra, with an MMR of 55, is right behind Kerala, followed by Tamil Nadu at 63.
The national MMR has recorded a drop from 130 (2014-16) to 122 now.
“Kerala is certainly on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals target it had set for itself: an MMR of 30 by 2020. MMR estimation under the SRS is always slightly higher by some 20 points than our assessment, which is arrived at by actually taking the line list of deliveries and maternal deaths in the State.
The Health Department’s assessment of Kerala’s MMR (as on September 30, 2019) is 31,” a senior health official said.
However, only the SRS figure will be considered as the official data.
The Health Department has been moving ahead by addressing various issues plaguing the reproductive health sector by focussing on the health of antenatal women and various initiatives to improve and upgrade facilities in all delivery points.
Focussing on some of the commonest causes of maternal deaths, namely postpartum haemorrhage (PPH), hypertension, sepsis, and amniotic fluid embolism, quality standards have been implemented that have significantly changed the practices in delivery points.
A new concern
“While the numbers have reduced, PPH, hypertension, and sepsis continue to be the leading causes of maternal death. However, over the past two years, we seem to have lost a significant number of pregnant women to suicide, which is indeed a very disturbing trend. It falls outside the direct realm of the Health Department but we seriously need to draw up some concrete programme for social intervention to check this trend,” V.P. Paily, senior obstetrician and the master trainer in safe obstetric practices for the Kerala Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists, said.