Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The silent tsunami: one Indian woman killed every 7 minutes

Over 77,000 women die every year in India from complications arising from pregnancy, according to a new report issued by the Registrar General of India.

From the Middle East Times:

Some 301 women in 100,000 births die each year due to "pregnancy-related complications" despite the government's goal of bringing the mortality rate below 100, said the registrar general.
"In other words, one woman is dying every seven minutes due to complications related to pregnancy and childbirth," said the body, which records births and deaths.
Rundown maternity services and near-absent mother-and-childcare centers and rural health facilities contributed to the huge death rate of mothers, the body said.

Federal ministry officials blamed the states for not doing enough to improve maternal healthcare.
"The national target is to keep the mortality rate to below 100 per live births but laxities by states in upgrading their [health] facilities is making it difficult," said an unnamed government official quoted by the Press Trust of India.
The mention of mortality rates relating to the figure of 100,000, is called the Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR): a measure of the risk of death directly related to the pregnancy once a woman has become pregnant. It is usually measured in terms of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

Last month an article in India's Hindustan Times offered more background on the tragedy aggrieving their nation:

"The real concern for the high MMR in India is not lack of resources but failure in the system," said Aparajita Gogoi, national coordinator of the White Ribbon Alliance (WRA) that works on issues concerning safe motherhood.

Promoting accountability is another factor that, when looked into seriously, brought down the number of maternal deaths in China from 1,500 per 100,000 live births to less than 200 in the year 2000.
"Accountability is very important. No one is held responsible when a mother dies ... most of the times it's not even registered. It's very important to keep a tab of the health of a pregnant woman"[, Gogoi said.]

One of the reasons for the high MMR in India [is] the ratio of the population to the number of skilled medical staff available. Although 70 per cent of the population resides in rural areas, only 20-30 per cent medical aid is available to them while the ratio is the opposite in urban areas.
Non-functional health centres, scarcity of blood banks, inadequate number of specialists like gynaecologists and anaesthetists in rural areas and the poor condition of the transport system are some of the bottlenecks of the problem.
"Seventy per cent of the national budget allocated for health support goes back unutilised.
The system is not delivering end results and that's where the problem lies," stated Hamid El-Bashir, Madhya Pradesh state representative of UNICEF.
"These deaths are completely preventable and that is the greatest tragedy. It is a silent tsunami," remarked Gogoi.
I think it is horrible that these deaths are so numerous. What is to be done about it?
Getting the right equipment, getting the right access to specialists with the right training, all this and more will come with getting the right system in place to ensure these other things are done right. Note the complaint about “laxity”; beyond the medical knowledge, even beyond the money, must come a belief: a belief in the sanctity of life. Good health, long lives, fruitful families: 3 virtues that the west, with its science, with its engine for wealth, and especially its sanctification of life, have triumphantly raised to unprecedented standards. Surely these are the real, palbable, noble goals of globalization, this is what the west tries to share with those less advanced than ourselves... not just McDonalds or Starbucks, but ultrasounds and emergency wards and pre-natal care. And the system that developed these things in the first place.
Good roads to ensure safe and speedy travel, plentiful sources of energy to ensure adequate facilities at either end of these roads, hygenic conditions and modernized techniques developed over decades of patient study. This is what globalization, westernization, can bring to rural India. Look what it did for rural Tennessee. Do the anti-globalists regret the TVA?

Maybe the masked anti-globalists who self-righteously protest against progress and modernization, maybe they can sleep untroubled by these grim MMR statistics, happy that witchdoctors and shamans are dancing around campfires in vain attempts to ward off evil spirits, while mothers' lives are torn from them during what is supposed to be a celebration of life, their sons and daughters dying before seeing their first sunrise.

Is it really that outrageous to look forward to the day where western civilization’s system of beliefs, along with the sciences of gynecology, obstetrics and other related fields that developed from that system, can finally be spread, not just to India, but globally: allowing Somalia (with an MMR of 1,600 deaths per 100,000), or Rwanda (at the bottom of the list with a tragic MMR of 2,300 lost souls per 100,000) to come that much closer to Canada’s MMR of 6 out of 100,000.

Doesn't this masked fellow want the same?

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