The maternal mortality rate (MMR) in Bihar has fallen by about 15 per cent, as more and more women are opting for institutional deliveries. Women have also been demanding improvement in health services and infrastructure, according to official figures released in Patna on Wednesday.
The MMR, maternal death per lakh live births in Bihar decreased from 371 in 2001-03 to 312 in 2004-06.
"We are committed to reducing MMR by improving the health scenario in rural areas," Bihar Health minister Nand Kishore Yadav said.
Yadav believed that the current MMR in Bihar would have probably gone even below the national average of 254 per one lakh live births but in the absence of the latest data it was difficult to substantiate.
"The latest figures would probably show a further reduction in the MMR in Bihar if the data was available," Unicef Health expert Dr. Sherin Varkey said. He added that the MMR had come down in Bihar because of an increasing awareness about health during pregnancy and training of mid-wives.
Principal health secretary Bhanu Pratap Sharma said institutional deliveries in the state had gone up from 15 to 40 per cent over the last three years. "Institutional deliveries in 2006 were 136,000 and now they are over 1.1 million which has mainly contributed to reducing MMR," Sharma said.
Unicef, which is helping the state government bring down MMR, describes the drop in MMR in Bihar as "a new beginning on the health front".
"A drop in the MMR proved that we are making progress in the right direction. We are optimistic that we can achieve our goal," Aditya Malaviya, media in-charge of the Unicef office in Patna told IANS.