NCW chief calls for efforts to reduce maternal mortality

New Delhi, May 14 (IANS) Coordinated efforts by NGOs and the private sector are necessary to take various government schemes to grass roots level and to reduce the maternal mortality rate (MMR), National Commission for Women (NCW) chairperson Mamta Sharma said Tuesday.

Inaugurating a programme “MSD for Mothers in India”, aimed to help improve the quality of health care of pregnant women in India, Sharma said: “The government offers various well-thought schemes for the expecting mothers like Indira Gandhi Matritva Sahyog Yojana (IGMSY) and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).”

“Though there are good schemes, many times it doesn’t reach the grass roots like panchayat and block level, and coordination between government and private sector and NGOs will help reducing MMR.”

Drug firm Merck, Sharp and Dohme (MSD) India will invest $10 million over next three years in the country as part of its global initiative to help reduce maternal mortality.

“We are launching the programme MSD for mothers in India as part of our global initiative. We would be investing $10 million over the next three years in this initiative,” MSD India managing director K.G Ananthakrishnan told reporters here.

Initially the programme will be launched in three states – Rajasthan, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh – to reduce incidents of deaths during child birth.

Three NGOs – Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust, Pathfinder International with World Health Partners, and the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) for Safe Motherhood – will be associated with the programme.

“India ranks 142 among 176 countries in MMR, where the first place goes to Finland and the last to the Democratic Republic of Congo. India’s commitment to maternal health and programmes like the National Rural Health Mission and Jan Suraksha Yojana has also contributed in reducing MMR, but if we improve our rural sectors, we can achieve a lot,” Sharma added.

The programme will try to reach nearly five lakh pregnant women in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Jharkhand, the states which see the highest rates of maternal mortality in the country.

“The partnership will connect women in remote areas to doctors and nurses in cities through telecommunication and internet. The partnership will compliment the government initiative to reduce maternal mortality,” said WRA national coordinator Aparajita Gogoi.

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