With majority of maternal deaths during deliveries being avoidable, Dr Sunil Pandya, obstetric anaesthesiologist and secretary of the Association of Obstetric Anaesthesiologists of India, explains in this interview about the measures to be taken to prevent maternal mortality rate (MMR) in India.
What are the major causes for maternal deaths during deliveries?
Lack of medical infrastructure and trained medical professionals in semi urban and rural areas has become perennial problem which needs to be addressed. Even simple problems which can be prevented if care is taken like high blood pressure during delivery, bleeding, infection, among others are resulting in maternal deaths.
How are we placed on international level in case of MMR?
Though MMR is decreasing with each passing year, still we have a long way to go. There are about 150 maternal deaths for every one lakh live births today. While Millennium Development Goals (MDG) pegged MMR figures at 50 per one lakh births, in countries like UK it is less than 10 per one lakh births.
How can we address this problem ?
MMR can be reduced by training obstetricians, anaesthesiologists and other medical care personnel involved in delivery and child birth about safe child birth practices. By taking simple steps and care during delivery and post-operation, many deaths which result from bleeding and infection can be prevented. In spite of many advances we do not have uniform guidelines for administering anaesthesia to pregnant women during delivery, These guidelines were specified recently. Many even do not know that there are anaesthesiologists who deal with deliveries.
What role can obstetric anaesthesiologists play in saving mothers during delivery?
We all feel that anaesthesia is just making a person feel numb and make sleep to forget pain. But there is much to it like pain management and critical care. Administering anaesthesia during delivery needs special care. Obstetric anaesthesiologists will have extra qualifications and training to deal with deliveries.
Do we have enough obstetric anaesthesiologists in India?
We have just about 500 obstetric anaesthesiologists. But there are 40,000 anaesthesiologists. Therefore instead of just stressing on obstetric anaesthesiologsts, focus has to be on creating awareness and training medical practitioners on safe child births, especially in rural and semi urban areas.