UN State of World’s Children report highlights maternal deaths

UN State of World’s Children report highlights maternal deaths

New Delhi: The State of the World’s Children report highlights how severe the problem of maternal mortality is in developing nations like India.

On the 20th anniversary of the Child Rights Convention, the UN has released a special edition of its annual The State of the World’s Children report.

Click here to view a slideshow about the state of children in India

“The Convention on the Rights of the Child is the most ratified human rights treaty in human history," said UNICEF executive director Ann M. Veneman. “It has transformed the way children are viewed and treated throughout the world."

The report charts the progress in children’s rights and quality of life that has been achieved globally over the last 20 years: the under five mortality rate has declined by 28%, 84% of primary school age children are in class today globally, and progress has been made on a range of issues like child trafficking and child labour.

However, it also points to the problems that continue to exist, specifically maternal mortality in the developing world, stating that “the difference in pregnancy risk between women in developing countries and their peers in the industrialized world is often termed the greatest health divide in the world."

The report emphasizes that education girls and strengthening health services are the most powerful ways to combat this phenomenon. It also identifies interventions and actions that must be scaled up to save lives: adequate nutrition, improved hygiene practices, antenatal care, skilled health workers assisting at births, emergency obstetric and newborn care, and post-natal visits for both mothers and newborns.

India and Nigeria together account for one third of maternal deaths worldwide. The latest international estimates show that India’s maternal mortality ration stands at 450 per 100,000 live births. A quarter of the world’s unattended deliveries take place in India.

Through initiatives like Janani Suraksha Yojana, which provides cash incentives for antenatal care during pregnancy, assisted institutional delivery and post-partum care, the Indian government is attempting to expand health care access for women. In some states, like Gujarat, the government is also partnering with private hospitals in initiatives like Chiranjeevi Yojana, which provides free obstetric care for pregnant women living below the poverty line.