PATNA: Bihar has outperformed several states in absolute terms by improving its Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR), the number of mothers dying per one lakh live births.
According to a special bulletin released by the Registrar General of India on MMR estimates for 2014-16, Bihar showed a sharp decline of 43-points (20.7%) in MMR. The national level of decline in MMR, on the other hand, stood at 22%.
In absolute terms, Bihar continued to outperform all other states in the Empowered Action Group (EAG) and Assam since 2003. The EAG states are Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Bihar and Jharkhand. According to the survey report, the current level of MMR in Bihar is 165, the lowest among all these states.
Considering the overall socio-demographic, economic and other development challenges in Bihar, experts of the Centre for Health Policy (CHP) at the Asian Development Research Institute-Patna have termed the MMR figures as a phenomenal achievement.
According to CHP experts, MMR is one of the strongest indicators of overall social development, women’s status in the society and, more importantly, functionality and responsiveness of health systems in any geographical area.
“Persistent improvement in MMR and Infant Mortality Rate as compared to other EAG states reiterates the fact that the public health systems in the state are performing quite well, especially in delivering maternal and child health services.
“As per the National Family Health Survey-4 (2015-2016) report, around 50% of the deliveries are conducted at public health facilities, which translates to nearly16 lakh deliveries. In spite of challenges of shortage of trained human resources, especially doctors and ANM, the performance of public healthcare delivery is really commendable,” said policy and systems expert Vikash R Keshri.
Keshri said the initiatives taken up by the state government for women’s education, empowerment and self-help group movement have played an important role in the sustained improvement of maternal and child healthcare in Bihar.