Though the West Bengal health department paints a rosy picture of the reproductive and child health scenario in the state, doctors in the Bengal Obstetric and Gynaecological Society feel that the state is “lagging far behind the developed states like Kerala” in indicators like birth rate, infant mortality rate, female literacy rate and mean age of marriage among girls.
Dr Gita Ganguly Mukherjee, former head of the Obstetric and Gynaecology department at RG Kar Medical College and Hospital, said West Bengal was still lagging behind in all aspects of reproductive and child health in comparison with developed states like Kerela.
In maternal mortality rate, the state fared better than only some of the backward states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. 40% childbirths are unsafe in the rural areas of the state as people there are unable to access medial institutions. In the urban areas, 10% of childbirths take place without the help of trained nurses, which is a major cause of the high maternal mortality rate. Lesser number of institutional deliveries, mental stigma attached to the use of contraceptives ~ both in rural and urban areas ~ coupled with unsafe abortion have sent the maternal death rate soaring. Almost 70% of rural women and 76% of urban women do not use contraceptives, leading to unwanted pregnancy. A large number of these women face fatal consequences when they go for illegal abortion.
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