Cause of Death Among Reproductive Age Group Women in Maharashtra, India (Report)
In many settings women are confronted by a dual burden of traditional health threats related to infectious diseases and maternal conditions alongside emerging challenges associated with non communicable chronic diseases. Largely, women in rural India experience more episodes of illness than males and also are less likely to access health care facilities before the illness is well advanced (1,2). This situation is directly linked to poverty; a vast majority of poor women caught in this vicious circle are young mothers in the reproductive age, who are deprived of their basic right to be healthy (3). No specific estimates are available to indicate health related disease burden in reproductive age group women in India. Reliable data on mortality and morbidity during pregnancy are scarce, and for female morbidity in general, the information is almost nonexistent in rural areas (4). Paucity of adequate data makes the understanding more complex, for knowledge of the causes of death that may reveal the sickness load. In India, the data on cause of death are available from sources such as Medical Certification of Cause of Death in urban areas and Survey of Cause of Death in rural area. Although these sources exist, a good percentage of cases go unregistered and only 10 per cent of deaths are medically certified (5). A multicentric task force study on the cause of death by verbal autopsy was undertaken by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) during 2003-2005 in five States: Maharashtra, Assam, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Tamil Nadu. The objectives of the study were (i) to study the cause of death in reproductive age group women by verbal autopsy method; (ii) to study the socio-economic factors of the deceased; and (iii) to assess the factors at the personal, family and community level which contributed to these deaths. This paper pertains to findings on the cause of death among women in reproductive age group in Maharashtra State out of the 1377 verbal autopsies conducted during the study.