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Ending Preventable Maternal and Child Deaths

Since 1990, the lives of nearly 2.1 million children have been saved, due in part to the efforts of USAID.

Overview

Child deaths in India have dropped by 45 percent since 1990.  India’s success improving child survival is proof that there can be a better future for India’s mothers and children. By scaling up interventions, we can save 4.3 million children and 128,000 women by 2020.  

Since 1990, the lives of nearly 2.1 million children have been saved, due in part to the efforts of USAID.  Despite this significant progress, much more work remains:  1.2 million children still die each year; almost 760,000 of them in their first month of life and 47,000 women die annually.  More than 30 million women in India want to avoid pregnancy, but are not using modern family planning methods.  Enabling couples and individuals — regardless of when and how many children they wish to have — is vital for safe motherhood, and creating healthy families and prosperous communities. 

USAID/India Programs

Maternal and Child Health: USAID partners with the Government of India, the private sector and civil society to demonstrate how high-impact solutions can put India on a path to save the lives of mothers and children. The vast majority of maternal and child deaths occur even though there are known affordable treatments.  
USAID works to improve the access and quality of basic health services for women and children, helping save millions of lives.  USAID’s health programs focus on improving the quality of care at birth, which helps reduce pneumonia, diarrhea and malnutrition. USAID strengthens the knowledge and skills of health care providers in both government and private health facilities, and ensures the availability of essential medicines through technology-enabled solutions.  USAID partners with professional medical associations to support accreditation or ratings for private maternal and child health facilities.  USAID also supports community-level approaches by promoting healthy behaviors and building the skills of community health workers, targeting the lifesaving impact around the time of delivery.  Malnutrition is an underlying driver of maternal and child deaths.  To address this challenge, USAID promotes positive and sustainable nutritional practices within local communities.

The Government of India prioritized the national polio program, which contributed to India’s ability to become polio free.  This success demonstrates that it is possible to reach all children with life-saving healthcare, including vaccines.  More than seven million children are partially immunized in India and 1.5 million are not immunized at all.  USAID strengthens India’s routine immunization system by improving the coverage of existing vaccines and introducing newer vaccines, such as rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines. 

Family Planning (FP)

Family planning has profound health, economic and social benefits for families and communities. In India, there is an urgent need to delay the age of a first pregnancy, enable appropriate birth spacing and prevent unintended pregnancies. Using evidence-based research, USAID’s FP program supports an individual’s right to make an informed and voluntary choice about her use of family planning and access to any desired FP method. The program also focuses on the healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies, and reducing unintended pregnancies. USAID works to expand available contraceptive methods, service delivery channels, and awareness of FP methods — especially for young people — helping strengthen the quality of family planning services. India has the world’s second largest urban population, and the health of the urban poor has many challenges. USAID is working to improve the reach and quality of urban health services for the urban poor and reduce their out-of-pocket medical costs. 

Last updated: June 20, 2017

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