India to conduct ‘verbal autopsy’ of maternal deaths

June 12th, 2008 - 10:09 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, June 12 (IANS) All pregnancy-related deaths in the country will be investigated and a structured report will be prepared to fix accountability in order to reduce fatalities, a health ministry official said Thursday. “We are soon going to have a verbal autopsy of all women dying during child birth. It’s a practice followed in Tamil Nadu and it will be emulated across the country soon,” Health Secretary Naresh Dayal said.

“Each death will be interrogated (by health officials) and a proper record will be maintained. We want to know the reason behind such a huge maternal mortality rate in the country and fix accountability,” Dayal said here.

Currently, 301 Indian women out of 100,000 succumb to pregnancy-related complications after or during childbirth, a number much higher than in neighbouring Sri Lanka and China.

“Our country is growing well in almost all fields but our health indicators are poor. It’s a shame to talk at international podiums about Indian’s health parameters. We are trying to better the situation,” Dayal added.

He also accepted that there is a huge shortage of doctors, paramedics and nurses. “We are going to increase the number of medical colleges in the country and it will help in getting more human resource in the field.”

Speaking about the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), Dayal said: “We know there is a shortage of skilled manpower. But over the last three years the situation has improved.

“This financial year, all state governments have submitted their action plans and we have released funds to all of them. We are also providing technical officers to the states.”

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