According to public health experts, most developing countries have reduced stillbirths by improving access to care for pregnant women, foetal monitoring and by performing timely caesarean sections.
A baby who dies any time after 22 weeks of pregnancy, but before or during the birth, is classified as a stillborn. As per Sample Registration System (SRS) Report of Registrar General of India, Stillbirth Rate (SBR) is 3 per 1000 births in 2020. It is also 3 in context with Jammu and Kashmir.
According to MoHFW, it is supporting all States and UTs in Implementation of Reproductive, Maternal, Newborn, Child, Adolescent health and Nutrition (RMNCAH+N) strategy under National Health
Mission (NHM) based on the Annual Program Implementation Plan (APIP) submitted by them to improve maternal and child health outcomes.
As per experts, many child deaths are due to two neglected challenges, one is of children being ‘born too early’, which means they are born alive before 37 weeks of pregnancy are completed. The second challenge is stillbirths.
The government informed parliament in one of the recent sessions that various measures are being taken. Among others includes Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan (PMSMA), an initiative to ensure quality antenatal care to pregnant women in the country. Under it, a minimum package of antenatal care services is provided to the beneficiaries on the 9th day of every month at the designated public health facilities to ensure that every pregnant woman receives at least one check-up in the 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy by a doctor. This includes provision of services such as diagnostic, screening for clinical conditions, appropriate management of any existing clinical condition like anaemia, pregnancy induced hypertension, gestational diabetes etc. and proper counselling services.
There is also a Labour Room Quality Initiative aimed at improving the quality of care in labour room and maternity operation theatres to ensure that pregnant women receive respectful and quality care during delivery and immediate post-partum.
Further, it said, Janani Suraksha Yojana (JSY), a demand promotion and conditional cash transfer scheme for promoting institutional delivery to promote safe deliveries.
Also under Janani Shishu Suraksha Karyakram (JSSK), every pregnant woman is entitled to free delivery, including caesarean section, in public health institutions along with the provision of free transport, diagnostics including ultrasound, medicines, other consumables and diet.
As has been stressed by health experts, the majority of stillbirths can be prevented by improving the quality of health services.