Haryana government pledges to audit all maternal deaths after HRLN intervention

The Haryana government has pledged to carry out audits of all maternal deaths in the state in future. Following HRLN's intervention, the Director for the National Rural Health Mission in Haryana has issued directions that all maternal deaths will be audited. In March 2010, the Delhi High Court in Laxmi Mandal vs Deen Dayal Hari Nager Hospital & Ors W.P. 8853/2008 had ordered a maternal death audit be carried out in the death of Shanti Devi, who died minutes after giving birth to a premature baby on January 20, 2010. Shanti Devi's death was a maternal death, yet it had not been registered as such by the Haryana administration, and no post mortem was carried out to identify the direct cause of her death. After HRLN filed a petition in the Delhi High Court, the judiciary ordered a maternal death audit to be carried out immediately. Maternal death audits are crucial in identifying the number and direct/indirect causes of maternal deaths, providing crucial information to ensure that such deaths are not repeated. More women and girls die in India due to pregnancy related causes than in any other country world-wide. “For a middle income country of its stature, the rate of maternal deaths in India is shocking”, remarked Paul Hunt, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health. An estimated 74 percent of maternal deaths can be averted if women have access to emergency obstetric care and family planning.