Maternal health has just been examined across Indian states and diagnosed, based on three indicators: infant mortality rates (IMR), antenatal care and institutional deliveries. Delhi has an IMR of 37 (deaths per 1,000 live births); only 29 per cent mothers receive recommended antenatal care. This is not the worst in the country — but not the best either.
The good news on Mother’s Day, is that in Kerala, Goa and Manipur, maternal health is being taken care of. These three states top the list of ‘best states to be a mother in’. In Kerala, 63.6 per cent women receive antenatal care, and 99.3 per cent have access to institutional (hospital) deliveries.
Nagaland and Mizoram also rank among the highest performing states, owing to “higher levels of literacy and cultural factors” among mothers — and hence low IMR. However, these two states don’t score high on the other two indicators.
The state of ‘motherhood’ in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra is healthy too: these states are ranked just below the Kerala-Goa-Manipur band.
And now, the bad news. Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand are on top of the ‘most unhealthy’ list. Uttar Pradesh is the worst performer with only 4.1 per cent of mothers receiving antenatal care. “Maternal health is very important since it directly impacts the health of a child. Greater access to pre-natal care is needed, including nutritional requirements, and we need to ensure safe childbirth so that delivery complications can be avoided,” says Shireen Vakil Miller, head of policy and advocacy at Save the Children, the NGO that has conducted the study. The figures have been compiled from the National Health and Family Survey 3 (NHFS), and the Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin.
A global study by Save the Children has ranked India 66th among 71 ‘less developed’ countries (the study also ranked countries in the segments of ‘well-developed’ and ‘least developed’) on the ‘Best places to be a Mother’ index. Even countries like Ghana, Congo and Guatemala rank higher than India on the same scale.