Child, mother mortality rate under-reported
EVEN AS Chief Minister, Shivraj Singh Chouhan, had the gumption to admit enormity of the infant and maternal mortality rates in the State publicly on several occasions, the Public Health and Family Welfare Department continues to underreport the children’s and mothers’ death figures on its official website.
The Health Department updated its website on May 19 and for the period between April 2005 and March 2006 shows the maternal death figure at mere 1408 for 17,16,355 reported childbirths. For the same period the infant death figure is shown at 30,157.
If these figures are assumed correct then the maternal mortality rate (MMR) in the State is around 82 per lakh while the infant mortality rate (IMR) is a 17.5 per 1000. Only if these figures were true!
The latest available National Family Health Survey puts the MMR in the State at 498 per lakh (third highest in the country after UP and Rajasthan) while the recently released State Sample Survey released by the Registrar General of India puts the IMR at 79 per 1000, the highest in the country.
Interestingly, in the foreword to the official report of the Directorate of Public Health and Family Welfare Department titled ‘Surakshit Matritva Ki Ore Badhtey Kadam’ (Towards Safe Motherhood), released on occasion of Women’s Day this year, the CM lamented the situation where every year 13,000 women in the State die during child birth.
This figure quoted by the CM is pretty close to the official MMR of the State (498/lakh). Director of Family Welfare and Health Services Dr Yogiraj Sharma also corroborated the figure in his message in the same report.
Also, the Hindustan Times in its report titled ‘Health Department fudges maternal, infant death figures’ on January 11 this year, had pointed out clearly the faux pas on the infant and maternal death figures (for April to November 2005 duration).
At that time Principal Secretary of department M M Upadhyay, had conceded that the figures seemed discrepant. He had assured to look into the matter. Yet, the department continues to quote the underestimated figures on its website.