In a recent report Human Rights Watch analyzed India's maternal health policies in Uttar Pradesh state, which has one of the highest maternal death rates in India. One of our most important findings was that the government was not tracking the problem closely enough - and understanding the scope and underlying causes of the problem is the first step toward solving it.
After analyzing the data, we recommended that the government track all pregnancy outcomes, investigate the causes of deaths and monitor access to emergency obstetric care. We also urged the creation of a complaints system for women and their families to register grievances and access reparation for harm caused.
A new study in the medical journal The Lancet says the number of women dying from pregnancy and childbirth is dropping worldwide. That's good news! But there is still much more to be done. The study estimates that only 23 countries are on track to meet international goals for reducing maternal death rates. It also notes that HIV/AIDS has slowed progress in reducing maternal deaths, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
Like Human Rights Watch, the authors of the Lancet article call for reforming healthcare systems and "delivery of interventions to women when and where they need them." Over the last six years, countries like Sri Lanka and Malaysia have managed to halve their maternal mortality numbers. By putting in place the right measures, we believe that other countries - including India -- should be able to do the same.