India has recorded a 22-per cent reduction in Maternal Mortality Ratio since 2013, according to a Sample Registration System bulletin released earlier this week. Unicef India lauded the country for the significant decline and showered praises for "impressive" progress in reducing maternal deaths.
The MMR - number of maternal deaths per 1,00,000 live births - has declined from 167 in 2011-2013 to 130 in 2014-2016.
"India has shown impressive progress in reducing maternal deaths, with nearly 1,000 fewer women now dying of pregnancy related complications each month in India as compared to 2013," Haque said.
She particularly praised Uttar Pradesh for topping the chart in reduction of maternal deaths.
"What is even more heartening to see is that the state of Uttar Pradesh, which accounts for the highest share of home deliveries in the country, has led the charts with a near 30 per cent reduction, which is even higher than the national average of 22 per cent."
Haque stressed that even one maternal death is too many and "it is our shared responsibility to end these preventable maternal and newborn deaths".
"Ensuring every women delivers with a safe pair of hands in an environment that treats her with respect and dignity is going to be the key. It will be crucial that the same timely access and quality of care is afforded to every woman, especially those who live in the remotest and the poorest household of the country. The time for all of us to act is now," she said.
According to the SRS Bulletin, there were nearly 12,000 fewer maternal deaths in 2016 as compared to 2013, with the total number of maternal deaths for the first time reducing to 32,000. This means that every day 30 more pregnant women are now being saved in India when compared to 2013.
Uttar Pradesh, with a 30 per cent decline, topped the chart in reduction of maternal deaths.
To understand the maternal mortality situation in the country better and to map the changes taking place, especially at the regional level, the government has categorised states into three groups - Empowered Action Group (EAG), southern states and "other" states.
EAG states comprise Bihar, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and Assam.
The southern states are Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu and the "other" states categories cover the remaining states and Union territories.
The first report on maternal mortality in India (1997-2003), describing trends, causes and risk factors, was released in October 2006.
The present bulletin, which provides only the levels of maternal mortality for the period 2014-16, is being brought out as a sequel to the previous bulletin (2011-13).
The survey for the current bulletin covered 62,96,101 pregnant women, of whom 556 died.
(With PTI inputs)