NEW DELHI: Despite progress across the continent in the reduction of maternal mortality, South Asia still has the second-highest mortality ratio with 190 maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births in 2012, the latest UN Millennium Development Goals report has said.
The report was released here by Union Minister of Minority Affairs Dr Najma Heptullah on Wednesday. She said that the four references to India in the report pertain to poverty, infant deaths, maternal deaths and sanitation. “None of these references are flattering. Even before this report, several challenges, including those mentioned in the report, had been identified. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given special emphasis to adequate sanitation, availability of drinking water and maternal and child care particularly to the disadvantaged sections,” she said.
As per the report, only 51 per cent of deliveries were attended by skilled health personnel in South Asia, lowest among all regions. In 2012, only 36 per cent of pregnant women in South Asia received at least four antenatal care visits during their last pregnancy, again the lowest, the report said.
The number of births by girls aged 15 to 19 declined across the world between 1990 and 2011. In South Asia, the birth rate dropped from 88 to 50 births per 1,000 girls, accompanied by an increase in school participation, demand for contraception, and a decrease in the proportion of adolescents married off.
Presenting the highlights of the report, Professor of Economics in Jawaharlal Nehru University Dr Jayati Ghosh said, “It’s a bad report for India. Other South Asian countries have managed to bring down poverty and when we compare, we are the worst. The figures suggest that maternal deaths and malnutrition have not been reduced and more than 50 per cent people still defecate in open. We have done well in enrollment of kids in the schools. But school dropouts figures are very alarming,” she added.