India has the second highest number of maternal deaths globally, an estimated 45,000 a year. Although more women are now giving birth in a health facility rather than at home, maternal mortality rates are not declining at the expected pace.

Many women visit both public and private facilities throughout their pregnancy and delivery, making it important to ensure private providers offer quality care.

What gaps need to be addressed?

Recognizing that progress should be faster, India is mobilizing to improve the quality of maternity care women receive in public health facilities. At the same time, efforts to improve quality among private health providers are also needed, given that they serve a significant proportion of Indian women, including the poor. However, these local, independent doctors and midwives may provide inconsistent quality care, and there is no national system to assure quality.

What systems need to be improved to ensure consistent care?

Merck for Mothers is working with partners to improve the quality of private maternity care in India. Our programs complement government efforts in the public sector, strengthening the country’s entire health system so that many more women survive and thrive after pregnancy and childbirth.

Collaborating with government, professional associations, and civil society, we developed Manyata, a quality improvement model that certifies private providers who consistently deliver quality care to the women they serve.

To date, the model has been successful in improving quality among hundreds of private providers in two states of India with a high burden of maternal deaths.