(Highest maternal deaths and highest first day infant deaths in the world: Source State of the world’s Mothers’ report 2013)
On the onset of Mother’s day where the whole world is gearing up to celebrate the magical journey of childbirth, I want to highlight condition of Indian women, their pregnancies and newborns. India has recorded more than 29% of the first day infant deaths around the world and it has more maternal deaths than any other country in the world (56,000 per year).
This raises a lot of questions. India has recorded a momentous growth in last few decades and the general outlook of India is female oriented...We call our country “Bharat Mata” (India –the Goddess). Centuries have changed, rulerships have changed hands, geography has changed, physics has changed...we are now one of the biggest democracy of the world where all Indian have equal right irrespective of gender, caste, creed and social status.
The most prominent religion of the country worships numerous women gods. The leader of our ruling party is a female and we have had many successful national leaders in past but keeping all this in mind, why has the condition of women deteriorated?? Why and how are we growing when the state of one of the most prominent citizen is still in shambles?? Why are women deprived of the basic human rights (Medical facilities) even in their most vulnerable state??
Babies born to mothers, who are most susceptible to death in the world during delivery, obviously do not have a fair chance of survival.
Coming back to the report, the basic reasons for the deaths as per the report are childbirth complications like pre term birth, maternal health and limited access to qualified medical interventions.
These reasons stem out from a number of bigger reasons which are so deep rooted in our country that they have become a part of our everyday life and people have accepted them and have become immune to the conditions. I want to discuss a few of them.
Gender Inequality: As per Global Gender Gap Index 2012 India stands tall at rank 105 out of 135 countries. It has a 0.64 score (out of a possible score of 1 which means perfect equality). As per UNDP’s Human development report 2013 Gender inequality in India is amongst the worst in the world. .
With limited resources and unlimited population, the privilege of better benefits in terms of education and health is passed on priority to the fairer/better/higher gender in Indian society. Take a look at any Indian household a fair share of income is dedicated towards the fairer gender of the house and this has direct implications on the health benefits allocated for women and for any pregnancies and newborns in the household.
Illiteracy and blind faith in traditional myths: Even now in many parts of the country child birth is administered at home without any specialized medical intervention. They accounted for more than 60 percent of recent births. NFHS-III found that 37 percent of all deliveries were assisted by a traditional birth attendant, while 16 percent were delivered by a relative or another untrained person.
A lot pregnancy related complications are not recognized and acknowledged due to widespread traditional myths. In addition to this a major part of any community is still illiterate hence doesn’t have access to correct information regarding pregnancy and childbirth.
Corruption: For any country to progress and continue the momentum of growth, it is important that a big chunk of progress is shared on health and education. India obviously lacks in both the departments. Apart from a few govt. run ads on TV, we still have to witness a momentous change towards education and health benefits.
In the 2012 Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index India has ranked 94th out of 176 countries.
Largest sources of corruption in India are entitlement programs and social spending schemes enacted by the Indian government hence the various govt. schemes launched fail to reach its target. Most Indians have accepted corruption as a way of life and rich do not mind shelling few extra bucks to avail extra medical benefits and poor die because of lack of access to reforms.
All these problems coupled with a lot of other reasons like Child marriage, Poverty, malnutrition, gap between rich and poor etc are responsible for the high maternal and infant mortality.
India has shown impressive economic growth in last few decades but any growth is inadequate if we do not protect the most vulnerable citizen of the country “pregnant women and the newborns”
Recently a lot media focus is given on issues related to Indian women, a lot of big voices are working towards women’s empowerment but a considerable change in the overall condition of women is only possible by also looking at the grass root problems and socio-economic condition of women in Indian households.
First and foremost all Indian women have a right to basic medical facilities especially during their most vulnerable state “Pregnancy”. The change needs to start at the lowest level and move upwards.
Every pregnancy and child birth is a miracle. It is not only a responsibility of the woman or her family but all of us as a nation.....small little changes around us will make a big difference.
Let’s take a pledge, start from our own house and make a difference even if it is small!! Actually I would love to hear your thoughts too on this issue, so kindly express your thoughts in the comments box below.
This is a guest post by Sfurti, who blogs at Just a Mom. If you want to write for us then please Contact us. You should Subscribe via Email for all the free Current Affairs updates. You can send your queries, suggestions to us by accessing this Contact Us Form, or you can play Current Affairs 2013 Quiz too.