History of UNICEF in India

Progress towards the Millennium Development Goals in India

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Goal 5: Improve maternal health

India’s maternal mortality rates are among the highest in the world. The country is seriously off-track in meeting this MDG.

  • The maternal mortality rate (MMR) remains high at 540 per 100,000 live births (1998/99)
  • Reductions in MMR could be achieved by improving the quality of health service facilities and encouraging their greater utilization. Only 42.3% of deliveries are attended by a health professional, and two-thirds of all deliveries (66.4%) occur at home. The proportion of home deliveries is particularly high in rural areas (75.3%) where over three-quarters of the population live.
  • Interventions to tackle maternal mortality should focus on the capacity of health facilities to respond to obstetric emergencies as well as on reducing the time it takes to get the appropriate level of care. Increasing the number and proximity of adequately equipped facilities is critical. Reducing high levels of severe anaemia in women will also contribute significantly.



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