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Innovations in Primary Healthcare: A Review of Initiatives to Promote Maternal Health in Tamil Nadu

Girija Vaidyanathan, Muraleedharan V. R, Sundararaman T, Umakant Dash, Rajesh M, Alok Ranjan, Babu R, Hariharan Iyer, Rajasulochana S. R, Maulik Chokshi, Tushar Mokashi and Arun Nair


One of the key factors that has helped the state of Tamil Nadu to make significant progress in the health sector, especially in maternal health, is an enabling political environment in the state that has prioritised programmes for the welfare of women and children, irrespective of the party in power. This article reviews 10 key innovations in maternal health and tribal health introduced in the state of Tamil Nadu from 2005–2006 to 2020–2021. The specific questions addressed are as follows: what are the special innovative schemes introduced by the state of Tamil Nadu to promote maternal health? Whether and to what extent utilisation of public delivery system for maternal services has increased over the past 15 years or so? The overall impact of these initiatives on the maternal health of the state is assessed by analysing two indicators: trends in maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and financial burden due to delivery in public and private facilities. MMR in the state of TamilNadu is steadily falling—from 111 in 2004–2006 to 60 in 2016–2018. While average out-of-pocket expenditure (OOPE)during delivery in the public sector has increased from ₹2,454 in 2014 to ₹3,465 in 2017–2018, in the private sector, it has increased from ₹32,182 in 2014 to ₹34,635 in 2017–2018. OOPE in private facilities is nearly ten times higher than OOPE in public facilities, in both rural and urban areas. While the overall status of maternal health has improved significantly in the state, there are wide variations within and across districts. However, significant improvements in the overall health status can be achieved only if such inequities are reduced systematically, and efforts are being made to reduce such inequities.


Tamil Nadu, maternal health, maternal and child health, maternal mortality, pregnancy, childbirth

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