UP is the riskiest state for a woman to have a baby


Lucknow, August 18, 2010: More than one-third of women dying due to pregnancy related causes in India are from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. A woman in Uttar Pradesh has a 1 in 42 lifetime risk of death due to pregnancy related causes, as compared to 1 in 500 for women in Kerala. Only 22 per cent of all deliveries in Uttar Pradesh take place in institutions and only 30 per cent deliveries are aided by a skilled birth attendant. Moreover, only 30per cent of children between 12-23 months are fully immunized. Uttar Pradesh is home to 52 per cent of India's severely malnourished children. Taking all this to consideration, demographers, social activists, corporate and government functionaries of the four states of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh called for an integrated action to make Uttar Pradesh the heart of the country in socio-economic development, at the end of the two day Regional Conference on Health, Population and Social Development, organized by Population Foundation of India (PFI), here on the second day of the conference. The theme for the day was maternal, neonatal, child health and nutrition.


Well-researched and integrated projects taken up by various civil society organizations in the state show that UP can become a vibrant state in health. An intervention on maternal and newborn care in rural UP by the Bill and Malinda Gates supported programme shows that institutional deliveries have increased from 24 per cent to 63.59 per cent, knowledge of danger signs among pregnant women has increased from 58 per cent to 80per cent and breastfeeding initiated within one hour of birth moved from 31per cent to 85.87 per cent, said Ms Shilpa Nair, State Coordinator of the Sure Start Project implemented by PATH.


In these four states, a large number of newborns die within the first week of birth and therefore there is a need for a paradigm shift from illness management to prevention. There is a need to know the underlying assumptions of behaviour and social practices and behaviour change strategy should be based on this understanding. Social networks are important and greatly influence the life of the newborn. Neonatal mortality can be impacted through behaviour change management – the key message is “Prevention can save neo-natal mortality.”


The strategy of identifying and building capacities of community health workers to support the public health system has been found to be successful in impacting neonatal mortality, and encouraging positive behaviour like breastfeeding and colostrum feeding. 


In Chhattisgarh, a three-year medical course for rural students has been introduced to serve the rural areas. The introduction of Rural Medical Assistants, posted in rural PHCs, shows early signs of positive impact on PHC service delivery.


At the end of the two-day conference, stakeholders agreed that there was a need to unite and complement each other’s activities. Different good practices like the Shivgarh model and the Gadchiroli model could be followed with a local specific strategy, which could lead to the development of practices that are both empowering to the community and to the service providers.


Among others who participated the discussions were Dr K R Antony, Director, SHRC , Government of Chhattisgrah, Mr B G Verghese, Member, Governing Board, PFI , Dr Ragini Prem, Member, Advisory Council, PFI , Dr Vishwajeet Kumar, Director, JHU-KGMU Collaborative Centre and Associate Faculty-Johns Hopkins University, Dr Abid Hussain, Member, Governing Board, PFI , Ms Aruna Narayan, General Manager, Planning, NRHM, Government of Uttar Pradesh, Dr Manohar Agnani, Mission Director, NRHM, Government of Madhya Pradesh, Dr Orang, Deputy Director, Department of Health and Family Welfare, Government of Chhatisgarh, Mr J C Pant, Member, Governing Board, PFI, Mr George Philip, State Director, Vistaar, UP , Dr Sanjay Pandey, Chief  of Party, Health of the Urban Poor Project, PFI, and Dr Amitrajit Saha, Director, SRH, PATH.


Mr B G Deshmukh, Vice-Chairman, Governing Board, PFI while delivering the closing remarks called for an integrated action by all stake holders to improve the status of these four states and making India a safe country for mothers and every child born.



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