Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health in India: Status & Challenges

Discussion in Progress
Maternal and child deaths in India have decreased significantly over the years but still today, we are not close to achieving the Millennium Development Goal for 2015 which is to reduce the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) to 109 deaths per 100,000 live births by 2015.  The Registrar General of India report (released as a part of the sample registration system (SRS)) released in Dec 2013 shows that India's MMR decreased from 212 in 2009 to 178 in 2012. Assam recorded the highest MMR of 328 and Kerala lowest with 66.

Maternal mortality, a key indicator of the maternal health, cannot be attributed to biological reasons alone. Medical, socio-economic and health-system related factors constitute the various causes of maternal mortality. [1]

In terms of child mortality in India, the rates have dropped to half since 1990 but it still records the world’s highest number of deaths in children below the age of five in 2013 according to UNICEF. India is still far below the two-thirds reduction required to reach the MDG target by 2015.

According to the report 'Levels and Trends in Child Mortality 2014', India registered the highest number of neonatal deaths in the world. In 2012, of the three million neonatal deaths globally, 779,000 took place in India.  What is more appalling is that most of the new-borns die of infectious diseases easily preventable causes which can be prevented with simple, cost-effective interventions before, during and immediately after birth. [2]

To discuss this and other issues pertaining to reproductive, maternal and neonatal health status and challenges in India, the GPPI-CPR organized an interactive discussion with Members of Parliament on December 2, 2014. The discussion was attended by 16 multi-party group of MPs both from Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.

The discussion was chaired by Mr. Dinesh Trivedi (AITMC), Former Union Cabinet Minister, Railways & former Minister of State, Health and Family Welfare.

The presentation by Dr. K Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) presented an overview of the current status of reproductive, maternal, neonatal and child health in India - Identifying issues of mortality as well as morbidity; unmet need for family planning, the progress made and existing gaps.

The presentation by Prof. Vinod Paul, Professor and Head, Department of Pediatrics, AIIMS, New Delhi, focused on the Challenges to Improving Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health in India - Issues of quality of care, including those relating to human resources for health, infrastructure gaps, & gaps in supplies, and Challenges in accountability in the health delivery system.

The presentation was followed by an intensive discussion with participants unanimously deciding to raise the issue in Parliament during the question hour and subsequently form a Forum of like-minded MPs to further the discussion.

[1] A strategic approach to reproductive, maternal, newborn, child and adolescent health (RMNCH +A) in India| January 2013, file:///C:/Users/Stanzin%20Yumchen/Downloads/1._RMNCHAStrategy.pdf
[2] Fastest decline in child mortality rates witnessed| Sept 16, 2014,