That 13 percent of all deaths of females aged between 15 and 49 occur due to childbirth-related complications, as found in a recent study, is shocking. The study by NIPORT also identified the two most common causes of maternal deaths: haemorrhage and eclampsia, which account for 55 percent of all maternal deaths. Such a high rate of maternal deaths from these two conditions is unacceptable, because these conditions can be treated with two simple injections: magnesium sulphate and ergometrine or oxytocin. Although these two injections should be provided by the authorities, sadly, 72 percent of government healthcare centres have no supply of these two vital injections, betraying the fact that maternal health remains neglected.
Meanwhile, the rate of unnecessary C-sections has also gone up, putting the lives of both the mothers and their babies at risk. Save the Children recently revealed that 77 percent of C-sections carried out across the country last year were medically unnecessary. Currently, the rate of C-section is more than 31 percent in the country which is way above the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recommended range of 10-15 percent.
We feel that the issue of maternal health is not getting enough importance at the policy level. Otherwise, why can’t the administration ensure the availability of two lifesaving drugs at every upazila hospital? The government needs to formulate proper guidelines to reduce the number of unnecessary C-sections. It should invest in training more skilled midwives who can deal with common maternal health-related issues and also support natural childbirth. The bottom line is that the administration must do everything in its capacity to reduce the maternal mortality rate in the country.