Sudden rise in maternal mortality rate, a cause of concern-Findings from the MVMD survey

Kolkata: CINI-The state Secretariat of the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) West Bengal, which is the world’s biggest maternal health advocacy platform, organized an interactive multi-stakeholder workshop to reduce avoidable maternal deaths.

The workshop, held recently at the Institute of Health and Family Welfare, Kolkata, engaged with the West Bengal Health department to advocate on findings of the Midwives’ Voices Midwives’ Demands (MVMD) survey results and its implication and priority action items for better remuneration and HR policy for the midwifery workforce.

The event also highlighted the good practices and challenges in the health system, focusing on the service & accountability of the nurses in the sector. Through various interactive sessions key factors dealing with preventable maternal deaths-from conception through delivery and post-delivery care pathway for the mother was emphasized, integrating various key issues such as maternal nutrition, responsive health care system, good practices, legal and ethical aspects.

The workshop was attended by senior officials including Dr. Shyamali Rudra (Basu) Assistant Director, Maternal Health, Govt. of West Bengal; Ms. Manika Gayen, Deputy Director, Nursing, Govt. of WB; Md. Ahsan, Senior Specialist Reproductive Health Rights, WRAI; Mr. Sujoy Roy, State Coordinator, WRA WB and senior officials from the Indian Medical Association, Bengal Obstetrics and Gynecology society. 

When the pandemic struck, all activities came to a standstill, yet childbirth continued and the midwives played an important role, working under tremendous constraints and even at risking their own lives.

Highlighting their efforts, Dr. Shyamali Rudra (Basu) Assistant Director, Maternal Health, Govt. of West Bengal, said, “Our Department has already initiated National Midwifery Training Institute at Nil Ratan Sirkar (NRS) Medical College and started a scheme called Assured Maternity New-born Services.

Dr. Mamtaz Sanghamita, Ex Member of Parliament and member Federation of Obstetrics and Gynecology Society of India (FOGSI) said,  “Through a first-ever, nation-wide “What Midwives Want” campaign,WRA has played a pivotal and catalytic role in mediating between the Government of WB and the broader Midwifery and Nursing community."

All the dignitaries, panelists and attending members signed a pledge titled: "We are committed for zero preventable maternal mortality in West Bengal".

The WRAWB State Coordinator Mr. Sujoy Roy said, “Childbirth should be a joyous occasion and every woman should feel valued, respected and appreciated by all those who aid her in her journey of bringing new life into the world."

Maternal death remains a pressing issue worldwideand India has remained a sizable contributor due to various factors. In the last decade through different government schemes and proper implementation of the same, there has been a steady decline in the maternal mortality rates. Sample registration system data shows that maternal deaths declined from 8.1 % in 2015-17 to 7.3% in 2016-18 in India. Surprisingly even with the downward trends, West Bengal had 98 maternal deaths for every 1 lakh live births from 2016 to 2018, which rose to 103 in the 2018-2020 period though the institutional births in Bengal remained significantly higher than the national average during the same period.

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