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Increased Maternal Deaths Due to Covid: Lancet Report

  • 03 Apr 2021
  • 3 min read

Why in News

According to a study published in The Lancet Global Health Journal, the failure of the health system to cope with Covid-19 pandemic resulted in an increase in maternal deaths and stillbirths.

  • The report is an analysis of 40 studies across 17 countries including Brazil, Mexico, the US, Canada, the U.K., Denmark, Netherlands, Italy, India, China and Nepal.

Key Points

  • Global Scenario:
    • Increase in Death:
      • Overall, there was a 28% increase in the odds of stillbirth, and the risk of mothers dying during pregnancy or childbirth increased by about one-third.
      • The disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic has led to avoidable deaths of both mothers and babies.
        • There was also a rise in maternal depression.
    • Poor Countries More Affected:
      • Covid-19 impact on pregnancy outcomes was disproportionately high on poorer countries.
    • Marginalised are the Sufferers:
      • The impact was high among the marginalised across various settings such as:
        • In Nepal where hospital deliveries decreased most markedly among disadvantaged groups.
        • In the U.K., where 88% of pregnant women, who died during the first wave of the pandemic, were from black and minority ethnic groups.
  • Indian Scenario:
    • During the months of national lockdown in 2020 between April and June, compared to the same period in 2019, there was:
      • 27% drop in pregnant women receiving four or more ante-natal check-ups.
      • 28% decline in institutional deliveries.
      • 22% decline in prenatal services.
  • Reason:
    • Failure of Healthcare:
      • The inefficiency of the healthcare system and their inability to cope with the pandemic instead of strict lockdown measures resulted in reduced access to care.
    • Societal Changes:
      • Wider societal changes could have also led to deterioration in maternal health including intimate-partner violence (domestic violence), loss of employment and additional care-responsibilities because of closure of schools.
  • Suggestions:
    • Device Strategies:
      • Policy makers and healthcare leaders must urgently investigate robust strategies for preserving safe and respectful maternity care, even during the ongoing global emergency.
    • Avoid Rolling Back of Investments:
      • Immediate action is required to avoid rolling back decades of investment in reducing mother and infant mortality in low-resource settings.
    • Don't Redeploy Personnel for Maternity Services:
      • Personnel for maternity services not be redeployed for other critical and medical care during the pandemic and in response to future health system shocks.
  • Some Indian Initiatives for Mother and Child health:


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