High infant and maternal mortality rate in Meghalaya leaves MLAs alarmed

Shillong: The rise in infants and maternal mortality in Meghalaya caught the Opposition’s attention in the state assembly on day two of the Autumn session.

Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma on Monday, in response to Congress MLA Himalaya Shangpliang clarified that the issue was not just a health issue but is linked to several aspects and health was just one part of it.

Sangma informed that the maternal deaths were 211 in 2015, 198 in 2016, 197 in 2017, 164 in 2018, 174 in 2019 and the number for this year till date stands at 61.

He clarified that the issue also relates to social and economic aspect and also on the aspect of empowerment of women.

Sangma’s response came against the news article which had appeared in one of the English dailies under the caption ‘State records over 900 deaths of infants and pregnant woman in April-July.’

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With regards to the Infant Mortality Rates, Sangma informed that the number of infant deaths between the age of 0 to 12 months is 2,513 in 2015, 2,427 in 2016, 2,512 in 2017, 2,074 in 2018, 2,524 in 2019 and the number from April till July this year 859.

“Going by the figures, we can see 190 maternal deaths and 2,500 plus children deaths. This has been consistent in the past five years, which is a matter of great concern,” Sangma said.

Meanwhile, on the deaths of the 900 infants and pregnant women during April-July, he said that this is an eye-opener for the government.

“To focus on women empowerment, we came up with the mother program. We had looked at the institutional delivery at Ampati in South West Garo Hills. We started using technology to monitor the pregnant mother. We are encouraging mothers to come for institutional delivery. Within 08 months, we were able to touch 80% of the institutional delivery in South West Garo Hills. It was a pilot project, and it showed the results,” Sangma said.

Sangma also highlighted the issue of teenage pregnancies. He said, “We see that 40% of the pregnancies are unintended and unwarranted. We are seeing this trend is emerging, and we realise the importance of taking measures in certain areas to help pregnant women.”

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