By Dr. Sumona Karjee Mishra / Dr. Aseem Mishra in Bhubaneswar, December 8, 2017: More than 1.9 crore women become pregnant each year in India and around 45,000 of them die from complications during birth. Still worse is the fact that that maternal health challenges accounts for more than seven million infant deaths within the first week of birth. Poverty and illiteracy are largely attributed for mother’s ill health. Most women lack the mere access to even the most formal health care services. This leads us to ask whether we need maternal and child health care or not?

All about maternal and child health care

Maternal and child health care is the health care service provided to expecting mothers and children. This service targets all women in the reproductive age groups starting from 15 – 49 years of age. There is an increasing concern and interest shown recently by different organizations in India n the field of maternal and child health care. The commitment of several organizations towards it further strengthens the path for consideration and outlining major areas to be addressed for maternal and child health care services in India.

Rationale behind Maternal and Child Health Care

If asked, why should there be a major consideration for the care of mothers and children? Though the points to be shared and factors outlined can be innumerable, we have picked few of the most important ones to shed some light on why exactly we need maternal and child health care services.

• Maternal casualty is an outcome of many unsupervised pregnancies. Spontaneous miscarriage, induced abortion and other similar factors accounts for over 40% of the pregnancies to result in complications for the mother or child.
• Insufficient prenatal care and the lack of help from a trained health care supervisor is believed to be the cause of over 7 million child deaths each year, caused due to maternal health issue and their improper management. This can also lead to the development of impairments among the newborns as a result of poor management of labour and delivery.
• Another factor that needs attention is the lack of access to appropriate information, supplies, transport system during emergency and other essential services to women of rural areas. This is one of the major causes of the blemishing maternal and child health.
• Unwanted pregnancies more often than not results in unsafe and induced abortion. Such instances of an unwanted pregnancy carry a high risk of mortality to the young expecting mothers. The lack of a proper information channel and medical supervision results in loss of life and further initiate complications for the mother.
• Many expecting women suffer from chronic illnesses that can get worst due to pregnancy. The immune system gets weakened and hence affect the mother as well the child’s health. Apart from the chronic ones, infectious diseases find its way easily in pregnant women than in the non-pregnant ones. Additionally, diseases such as HIV/AIDs have a high chance of getting passed on to her foetus in the womb or at birth without a medical supervision.
• Another aspect of the issues continues with the lack of proper nutrition for pregnant women. Women with a low nutritional status are likely to give birth to a low-weight infant. One of the reasons for this may be because women are fed less, carry a heavy workload and spend a considerate amount of their lifetime in pregnancy and lactation.

“Since the majority of deaths of both mothers and babies occur around the time of birth due to preventable causes, WHO is providing evidence-based guidelines and tools to improve quality and experience of care at birth… especially at health facilities and for management of complications like severe anaemia both during pregnancy and child birth,” WHO country office in India.

Way Forward

Issues relating to maternal and child health care are quite vast and we have solutions too. Ironically, most of these issues remain unheard and unreported. Maternal and child healthcare services should focus on addressing these challenges with appropriate policies and identifying cost-friendly interventions that could help reduce maternal and child mortality.

Many organisations across India are innovating to bring forth low-cost maternal and child healthcare services which are easily available. There is a growing interest in these experiments which could be the key to future innovative interventions ensuring proper health and safety of the mother and the child.

The above mentioned issues show how important maternal and child health is as a preventive mean to fend off any immediate health related issues for both the mother and the child. The key takeaway here is the need for maternal and child’s health care for the holistic socio economic development of a community.