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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 49  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 163-167

Challenges of maternal mortality reduction and opportunities under national rural health mission - A critical appraisal

Chief, UNICEF Office for Rajasthan, Jaipur, India

Correspondence Address:
Satish Kumar
Chief, UNICEF Office for Rajasthan, Jaipur
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 16468281

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Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) continues to remain high in our country without showing any declining trend over a period of two decades. The proportions of maternal deaths contributed by direct obstetric causes have also remained more or less the same in rural areas. There is a strong need to improve coverage of antenatal care, promote institutional deliveries and provide emergency obstetric care. Delays occur in seeking care for obstetric complications and levels of 'met obstetric need' continue to be low in many parts of the country. Most of the First Referral Units (FRUs) and CHCs function at sub-optimal level in the country. National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) offers institutional mechanism and strategic options to reduce high MMR. 'Janani Suraksha Yojna', strengthening of CHCs (as per Indian Public Health standards) to offer 24 hours quality services including that of anesthetists and Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) are important proposals in this regard. District Health Mission can play an important role in monitoring maternal deaths occurring in hospitals or in community and thus create a social momentum to prevent and reduce maternal deaths. NRHM, however, depends largely on Panchayati Raj Institutions for effective implementation of proposed interventions and utilization of resources. In most parts of our country, State Governments have not empowered PRIs with real devolution of power. Therefore, much needs to be done locally to build the capacity of PRIs and develop state-specific guidelines in operational terms to implement interventions under NRHM for reducing maternal mortality ratio.

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