Maharashtra has reasons to cheer. The state's maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortality rate (IMR) are lower than the national average and that of neighboring states like Gujarat. It also fares better in terms of other vital social sector and public health parameters like crude birth rate (CBR) and total fertility rate (TFR).
Health minister Suresh Shetty, in a written reply to Vijayraj Shinde (Shiv Sena- Buldhana), Prashant Thakur (Congress-Panvel), and others in the legislative assembly on Thursday, said the various schemes catering to pregnant and lactating women and children had seen IMR and MMR fall to 25 from 36, and 87 from 130, respectively.
The central scheme, 'Call to Action for Child Survival', aimed at bringing IMR down to at least 20, was launched last year. The central government had also appointed an international body as technical advisor for each state, and accordingly, the responsibility for Maharashtra was handed over to UNICEF.
In 2012, India's IMR was 42 per 1,000 live births. Among the six states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra stood at number three (25), with Kerala (12) at number one slot, followed by TN (21). Maharashtra, which eventually plans to take IMR down to 19 in 2014-15 and 15 in the 12th five year plan period, is trailed by Gujarat (38), AP (41) and MP (56).
In the MMR sector, Maharashtra (87) is healthier than the national average of 178. However, among the above six states, Maharashtra is preceded by Kerala (66) and followed by TN (90), AP (110), Gujarat (122) and MP (230).The state plans to lower MMR to 57 in 2014-15 and 47 in the 12th five year plan period.
According to the state health department figures, MMR declined from 130 in 2004-06 to 87 per 1,000 live births (2010-12), which is at present lower than the millennium development goal (MDG). Maharashtra is one of the three states which have achieved MDG in MMR. In the state, the percentage of institutional deliveries is 96%, and 51% of that are in private hospitals.
According to the sample registration system (SRS) data for 2012, Maharashtra ranks number three along with AP, Kerala, Delhi and Himachal, with a TFR of 1.8 children born per woman in 2011 as compared to the national average of 2.4. This is down from 2.86 in 1992-93, 2.52 in 1998-99 and 1.90 in 2008-9. West Bengal and TN (1.7) were at number one.
The health department's statistics also revealed that the CBR for Maharashtra (16.6) in 2012 is lower than the national average of 21.6.
Neeraj Hatekar, professor, department of economics, University of Mumbai, however, stressed the need for the state to focus more on social infrastructure like health, and pointed to how though IMR was on the lower side, government data saw large-scale under-reporting.
"If the MDG target is to be met, efforts must be made to concentrate on those countries and regions where most child deaths occur and where child death rates are the highest. India and Nigeria, for example, account for more than a third of all deaths among children under five worldwide, while countries such as Sierra Leone and Somalia have under-five mortality rates of 180 or more per 1,000 live births," the Millennium Development Goals Report- 2013 noted.
Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) (Source – SRS)
2001 66 45
2002 64 45
2003 60 42
2004 58 36
2005 58 36
2006 57 35
2007 55 34
2008 53 33
2009 50 31
2010 47 28
2011 44 25
2012 42 25