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India's High Maternal Death Rate Can Be Avoided

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Nisha Varia, a Womensenews commentator said that inequality is one reason why India contributes more deaths than other country in the world to the figure of 500,000 women and girls who die from pregnancy, childbirth or abortion each year. Varia says that most of these deaths in India are preventable.

Research by Human Rights Watch has shown that there is an awful state of government health services for rural people in India. This organization has also pointed out there are grave problems with how the authorities count maternal deaths, and investigate their causes so that the same mistakes are not repeated.

Ironically India has become a popular destination for medical tourists – that is those people who cannot afford medical treatment in their own countries. Varia pointed out how she recently saw a website of an agency that offers to perform services such as neurosurgery to bone marrow transplants, with holiday packages that include visits to temples and beaches. Wow.

Compare this to the poorly staffed health clinics she visited in rural Uttar Pradesh. That state, which is extremely poor, has one of the highest rates of women who die during or after childbirth.
Varia said that if women in Uttar Pradesh were rich Western tourists they might be offered what is advertised on the website. Here is a direct quote of what they would be offered from the website: “state –of-the-art gynecological surgery … available with world class equipment and expertise using minimally invasive techniques.” Nice.

Contrast that to the fact that one in every 70 girls in India is expected to die because of pregnancy, unsafe abortion or childbirth. In the developed world one in every 7,300 dies of those things.
The Indian government introduced initiatives to improve health care for rural folks, such as the National Rural Health Mission. In this program there is a particular emphasis on maternal health care, consisting of “service guarantees” of free care before and after childbirth, hospital services, emergency obstetric care, and referral connected with complications and postnatal care.

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