Lack of healthcare top killer of expecting mums

A 10-year audit of maternal deaths at Guru Tegh Bahadur (GTB) hospital, biggest tertiary hospital in east Delhi, has revealed that 74% of women who died had received little or no ante-natal care even as the National Health Mission (NHM) recommends at least three ante-natal check-ups for all pregnant women. Also, 55% of the women had travelled to the hospital from long distances, more than four kilometres away , leading to delayed medical intervention.

The hospital witnessed 647 maternal deaths from January 2005 to December 2014, the period of audit, due to various pregnancy-related complications and pre-existing illnesses. In this period, 1.16 lakh live births took place in the hospital. This indicated that 555 pregnant women died due to pregnancy-related complications for every one lakh live births in GTB hospital.

The hospital audit, published in the latest issue of Indian Journal of Community Medicine, found blood pressure-induced convulsion was the most common direct cause of death, followed by heavy bleeding and bacterial infec tion. The indirect causes of maternal deaths included anaemia, infective hepatitis, heart disease and tuberculosis. There was only one casualty because of HIVAIDS.

Dr Anshuja Singla, the lead researcher at GTB hospital, said that the results reflected limited reach of government programmes among the poor or those living in peripheral areas. “Most pregnant women who died at our hospital were rushed from villages in Uttar Pradesh in moribund state. They died within 72 hours of admission,” she said.

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