In India, 78,000 women die in childbirth each year; a woman dies every seven minutes due to problems related to pregnancy and childbirth, said a UNICEF report.
The risk of dying at childbirth in India is 300 times higher than in industrialised countries. “No other death rate is so unequal,” said Dr Karin Hulshof, UNICEF India Representative at the launch of its The State of The World’s Children 2009: Maternal and Newborn Health report.
Child marriage is the biggest cause of death at childbirth in India, with 27 per cent women married before the age of 15. “Girls who give birth before 15 are five times likely to die in childbirth than women in their 20s,” said Hulshof.
Since avoidable causes such as bleeding (38 per cent) and sepsis (11 per cent) account for almost half the deaths, the government plans to give women Rs 1,000 a month for six months — three months before birth and three months after — as incentive for treatment at a health centre.
“The good news is that a lot has been done under the National Rural Health Mission. The fall in numbers will register in the 2011 census,” said Hulshof.
The NRHM has a scheme for new mothers. “It needs to be put on track to ensure women and babies get treated,” said Dr Syeda Saiyidain Hameed, member of Planning Commission (health, women and children).
World over, 1,500 women die daily during pregnancy or childbirth. India accounts for 22 per cent of the total.