One death every minute due to pregnancy, more funds needed

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New Delhi, Oct 14 (UNI) With a woman dying every minute during pregnancy or childbirth, which claims 525,600 lives a year, the United Nations Population Fund has urged the Indian government to ensure protection of their basic right to life and health.

Almost 99 per cent of maternal mortality occurred in developing countries, with India contributing 15 per cent of the total deaths.

An estimated 78,000 to 80,000 Indian women die every year during pregnancy or within 42 days of delivery or termination of pregnancy or related causes.

India has Maternal Mortality Rate of 301 with a lot of regional disparities with high rate of incidence in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. However, it is significantly low in Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The risk of a woman dying as a result of pregnancy or childbirth is about one in six in Afghanistan and Sierra Leone, one in 100 in India and about one in 30,000 in Sweden. For each woman who dies due to pregnancy related causes, 30 develop chronic debilitating conditions, according to the United Nations Population Fund.

To deliberate on high maternal and child mortality, ignorance about contraceptions, unsafe abortions and other health rights, a three-day Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Rights is being organised in Hyderabad from October 29.

The Conference being organised by UNFPA would be attended by social activists and experts from various countries of the region.

UNFPA has also demanded more political and financial commitment from countries as 5.5 billion US dollars to 6.1 billion dollars additional funding will be needed by 2015 from domestic and international sources to accomplish Millennium Development Goal to improve maternal health.

In 2004, the world's major donors invested only 530 million dollars in maternal and newborn health, it pointed out and urged the international community to increase investment levels and offer long-term financial support. Countries need to adopt and effectively implement policies that protect poor families from the catastrophic consequences of unaffordable maternity care, it pointed out.

About 23 million women want to delay or avoid pregnancy in India but are not using effective contraceptives. Nearly three out of 10 births occur after a gap of less than two years.

One in three deaths related to pregnancy and childbirth could be avoided if women who wanted effective contraception had access to it.

An estimated six million to eight million unsafe abortions take place each year in India. About 90 per cent of abortion-related deaths and disabilities worldwide could be avoided if women had access to effective contraception and skilled attendance at delivery.

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