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India behind other nations in child care
Published on 5 Nov. 2009 12:56 AM IST
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India is falling behind other nations in improving obstetric care as it does not adequately monitor deaths and injuries in the critical period following childbirth and fix gaps in its health system and programmes, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Wednesday. Health experts say that the key to progress in maternal health is ensuring that women with pregnancy complications are able to get appropriate care during childbirth. “But HRW research shows this is not happening in India even though it has started healthcare programmes that guarantee free obstetric care to rural women,” said a HRW statement. Aruna Kashyap, researcher for the Women’s rights division of HRW, said: “India should be a leader in protecting and monitoring women’s sexual and reproductive health. Yet women continue to die entirely preventable deaths, and health authorities do not track down the reasons or do what is needed to rectify the health system.” The government counts the number of births in health clinics and hospitals but these are often “woefully under-resourced and under-staffed”, it said. Many women die or suffer serious injury after giving birth under these circumstances. The rights body claimed that the Indian government does not monitor what happens to women after childbirth, especially in the following 24 to 72 critical hours, when the chances of dying are the highest. “Without this information, it cannot save women who go back home and die or develop long-lasting complications.” It suggested that the Indian government change its approach to monitoring and examine whether women with pregnancy-related complications are in fact getting the kind of treatment they need and whether they are surviving childbirth in the postpartum period. Kashyap said: “Counting the number of women who give birth in under-equipped and under-staffed health facilities is meaningless unless the government can show that these women gave birth safely and survived without complications through the immediate postpartum period.”

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