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Orissa Governor Releases

© UNICEF/ India/ 2009
Releasing the State of the World’s Children 2009, UNICEF’s annual flagship publication, Governor of Orissa Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare and Shadrack Omol, Chief of UNICEF Orissa State Office.

The State of the World’s Children 2009 Report

Bhubaneswar, 24 February 2009: The Governor of Orissa Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare has urged that primary health care, which embraces every stage of maternal, newborn and child health, needs to be made available to vulnerable regions all over India at the release of  UNICEF’s annual flagship publication ‘The State of the World’s Children 2009’ (SOWC).

“Empowerment of women has a direct impact on maternal and child health,” Governor Mr. Bhandare said. “We need to ensure three A’s – Awareness, Assertion (of their rights) and Achievement (of objectives set for woman and child healthcare).”

“Empowerment of women has a direct impact on maternal and child health,” Governor Mr. Bhandare said. “We need to ensure three A’s – Awareness, Assertion (of their rights) and Achievement (of objectives set for woman and child healthcare).”

The report dedicated to newborn and maternal health was released at a glittering function held at the Governor’s House, Raj Bhawan here on February 24. Heads of UN agencies, top officials of the Government of Orissa, representatives of civil society and media, and various partners of UNICEF, were present on the occasion.

Bhandare called for a supportive environment for women, because discrimination on the basis of gender has a direct negative impact on maternal and child health care.

The SOWC report points out that if women had access to essential maternity and basic health-care services, up to 80 percent of all maternal deaths and injuries could be avoided. Elevated fertility rates, combined with poor access to basic health care and maternity services, can have life-long consequences on the health of women. In developing nations, there is a one in 76 lifetime risk of maternal death, compared to a risk of just one in 8000 for women in industrialized countries.

Speaking at the release function, Chief of UNICEF Orissa State Office Shadrack Omol , said that as a result of progress in medical science and sharing of global experiences, we now know what needs to be done to save the lives of the women who die from pregnancy and childbirth each year. “Two-third mothers die within seven days after delivery. If we focus on these first seven days, we can reduce our infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate significantly,” he said.

Annually, an estimated 78,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth in India, which means one woman dies every seven minutes. Infants whose mothers die during the first six weeks of their lives are far less likely to survive their first two years of life. Half of all under-five deaths in India occur in the neonatal stage (the first 28 days of life). Orissa, with 52 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births, has the highest neonatal mortality rate of all states.

Annually, an estimated 78,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth in India, which means one woman dies every seven minutes. Infants whose mothers die during the first six weeks of their lives are far less likely to survive their first two years of life. Half of all under-five deaths in India occur in the neonatal stage (the first 28 days of life). Orissa, with 52 neonatal deaths per 1,000 live births, has the highest neonatal mortality rate of all states.

India has made good progress in improving its child survival rate in recent years. Orissa Government’s IMR Mission, launched in 2001, has been particularly successful in reducing the mortality rate in the last seven years by 20 points – from 91 to 71 – the greatest reduction achieved by any state in India over the last decade.

“There is a need to consolidate these gains and continuously focus on the quality of care at the health facilities,” Omol said.

The SOWC 2009 points to an urgent need for increased investment in maternal and neonatal care in India which should be given priority in budget allocations. Funds must be used effectively to ensure that life saving services reach all those who need them. Investment is also necessary for improving roads, transport, electricity, water and sanitation facilities, all of which contribute to improving the situation of health care facilities.

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