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Maternal Health: The Cornerstone of Sustainable Development

India has made significant progress in improving maternal healthcare. The Maternal Mortality Rate (MMR) has been decreasing in the country. According to the Ministry of Health and Family Affairs, Government of India, the MMR has decreased from 130 in 2014-16 to 97 per lakh live births in 2018-20. Maternal healthcare is essential because it ensures the well-being of both the mother and the child during pregnancy, childbirth, and the postpartum period. Adequate maternal care can prevent or manage complications, reduce the risk of maternal and infant mortality, and promote a healthy start for the newborn. It is a critical aspect of overall healthcare and an essential indicator of a nation’s development.
Why is maternal healthcare important?
In June 2012, the governments of the world agreed to establish a set of universal sustainable development goals. These goals are crucial in ending inequality and poverty, and transforming the world for the better. One of the sustainable goals, SDG target 3.1, calls for reducing the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) to less than 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030. It is a reminder that government schemes like “Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram” and “Janani Suraksha Yojana” have been upgraded to more reliable and respectful service delivery initiatives, such as “Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan’ (SUMAN)” and “Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA)”. The latter is important for identifying high-risk pregnancies and facilitating their appropriate management.
Access to maternal healthcare is a fundamental human right that must be prioritized for the well-being of both mothers and their children. Robust maternal healthcare systems not only save lives but also empower women, strengthen communities, and contribute to the overall progress of society. When mothers have reliable access to prenatal care, skilled birth attendance, and postnatal support, they are better equipped to navigate the challenges of pregnancy and childbirth, reducing the risk of complications and ensuring the healthiest possible outcomes for both mother and child.

Maternal healthcare access plays a crucial role in empowering women and promoting gender equity. When women have access to information that enables them to make informed choices about their reproductive health, they gain greater autonomy, self-confidence, and the ability to actively participate in their communities and the workforce. This, in turn, leads to improved economic outcomes, stronger families, and more resilient societies.

Investing in maternal healthcare is not only a moral imperative but also a strategic investment in the future. Healthy mothers give birth to healthier children, who are more likely to thrive, contribute to their communities, and break the cycle of poverty. By ensuring universal access to maternal healthcare, we can create a world where every woman has the support and resources they need to navigate the transformative experience of motherhood with confidence and dignity.

Challenges Facing Maternal Health Worldwide
During pregnancy, some women may face health issues that can affect the well-being of the mother, the fetus, or both. These complications can arise even if the mother was in good health before conception, making the pregnancy high-risk. Some examples of such complications include gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and preterm labor. Gestational diabetes occurs when the body has difficulty regulating blood sugar levels during pregnancy, which can result in complications for both the mother and the baby. Preeclampsia is a condition marked by high blood pressure and organ damage, which can have a severe impact on the health of the mother and the development of the fetus. Additionally, preterm labor, where the baby is born before 37 weeks of gestation, can occur due to various factors, putting the infant’s well-being at risk. These medical issues, even if not present before conception, can significantly affect the course of a pregnancy, requiring specialized care and close monitoring to ensure the best possible outcomes for both the mother and the child. It is important to recognize the potential for such complications, even in seemingly healthy individuals, to ensure a safe and successful pregnancy.

Innovative Approaches to Improving Maternal Health Outcomes

By including services like nutrition counseling, mental health support, and alternative therapies, we can address the diverse needs of expectant mothers. This comprehensive approach not only improves physical health, but also promotes emotional resilience, leading to better maternal outcomes.

The Economic and Social Benefits of Investing in Maternal Health
As one of the foremost NGOs in India committed to societal progress, The We Foundation recognizes the intrinsic link between maternal health and economic and social development. By investing in maternal health, The WE Foundation believes we not only prioritize the well-being of mothers but also catalyze transformative change across communities.

India’s remarkable endeavors in effectively reducing the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) offer a promising perspective on achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of an MMR below 70 well ahead of the designated deadline of 2030. This progress positions India as a country recognized for delivering dignified maternal healthcare.

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