Working Paper No. 63 November, 2004
Pregnancy constitutes a high risk of morbidity and mortality due to associated physiological stress. Many women do not die of causes related to pregnancy but suffer severe morbidities. In developing countries, pregnancy and childbirth related complications are the leading cause of disability among women aged 15-44 years. The objective of the present paper is to assess the extent of maternal morbidity and assess the factors responsible for it in rural Andhra Pradesh. An attempt is also made to understand the treatment seeking behaviour of the women for the morbidities. The study revealed a high prevalence of maternal morbidity in rural areas of Andhra Pradesh. Especially in the less developed district, nearly 95 percent of the women experienced at least one of the morbidities and in the developed district it is 61 percent. 'Life threatening' and 'Serious' morbidities are experienced by 39 and 54 percent in the less developed; 15 and 46 percent of women in developed district respectively. High incidence of maternal morbidity in rural areas can be attributed to the combination of individual, household, community, medical as well as nutrition variables. Determinants of maternal morbidity at individual level are age, parity, education and work status; household variables are type of family, possession of land, availability of toilet with in the premises of house. In addition poor infrastructure facilities such as access to villages and non-availability of health care facilities further added to the level of maternal morbidity. Government's introduction of RCWHCs is not been effective in bringing down the morbidity levels due to lack of proper staff, particularly lady doctor. In spite of low levels of perception about maternal morbidities, relatively higher utilization of health services during antepartum period should be taken as an advantage for initiating complete antenatal services, i.e. beyond the coverage of women by TT injection and supply of IFA tablets. The governmental initiation of supplying protein-rich food to pregnant and lactating mothers through ICDS programme has significantly lowered the morbidity levels probably by lessening the levels of anaemia.