Around 20 km from Connaught Place, the heart of the city, a number of women die every day during childbirth at the Badarpur slums.
In an analysis done by members of various NGOs like Centre for Health Education, Training and Nutrition Awareness (CHETNA) and White Ribbon Alliance (WRA), which work for reducing maternal mortality rate in the country, it was found that women there are still dying of complications like anaemia, post-delivery haemorrhage, septicaemia etc.
“It’s a misconception that maternal mortality is limited to rural areas only. Even in cities like Delhi, we have underserved areas where women don’t have access to adequate healthcare facilities,” says Aparajita Gogoi, national coordinator, WRA for safe motherhood, India.
One in every 48 pregnant women in India runs the risk of dying during childbirth or complications related to it, taking the number of such deaths to an estimated 60,000 to 70,000 every year.
“The mortality rate is finally declining in the country, but these tragic deaths were totally preventable. It’s not just a health issue, but a matter of social justice as well. Another concern is infant mortality. Around 30% children are still born underweight, and the only way to prevent it is to continue spreading awareness,” says Saroj Pachauri, regional director, Population Council.
“There are no easy solutions, and one cannot expect results overnight in issues like these. Unfortunately, women’s health and maternal mortality are not issues that bring about any changes in the electoral pattern. But we must keep trying,” says actor Shabana Azmi.
“The need is to emotionally sensitise people about the issue for them to act,” says Azmi, who also lends support to advocacy groups working to reduce maternal mortality rate.