Overall, 12 per cent of the deaths among ever-married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years in the past three years were due to maternal causes, says the survey report.
However, antenatal care (ANC) and delivery care coverage in the country are improving. Over the past three decades, ANC coverage by a skilled provider has improved dramatically from 26 per cent in 1990-91 to 91pc in 2019.
Delivery in health facilities has also substantially increased, from 14pc in 1990-91 to 71pc last year, according to the survey report. While this is a positive development, 29pc of live births still take place at home, putting both mothers and babies at risk.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, President Dr Arif Alvi said the Pakistan Maternal Mortality Survey (PMMS) provided vital data and also assessed the progress the country had made towards meeting the Sustainable Development Goal of reducing maternal mortality.
Pervaiz Ahmed Junejo, the executive director of National Institute of Population Studies, which carried out the survey, pointed out that PMMS was the first exclusive nationwide survey on maternal mortality in Pakistan.
“The survey report provides the government of Pakistan and its development partners with data for programme managers and policymakers to take evidence-based decisions to improve maternal healthcare nationwide,” he said.
Under the survey — which was undertaken in the four provinces, Islamabad Capital Territory, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir — questions were put to households about deaths of married women between the ages of 15 and 49 years to determine rate of maternal mortality, which includes deaths of ever-married women during pregnancy, delivery, and 42 days after delivery or the end of pregnancy.
However, it does not include deaths that occur due to accident or violence.
Maternal deaths are divided into two categories. Direct maternal deaths refer to deaths resulting from obstetric complications during pregnancy, labour, or 42 days after delivery or the end of pregnancy.
Indirect maternal deaths result from non-obstetric complications aggravated by pregnancy.
The majority of maternal deaths (96pc) were direct maternal deaths, said the report. The most common causes of death included obstetric haemorrhage (41pc) and hypertensive disorders (29pc).
In the statements released on the occasion, SAPM on Health Dr Faisal Sultan and Parliamentary Secretary for Ministry of National Health Services Dr Nausheen Hamid emphasised the need for evidence-based data for improving quality and accessibility of health services available in the country.
Representatives of the UN Population Fund, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, US Aid, ICF and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which provided technical and financial support for the research study, reiterated support for maternal health initiatives in Pakistan.