At least 51 percent of Indian women lack proper care during pregnancy and delivery, according to a National Family Health Survey.
The final report of the National Family Health Survey-III (NFHS-3) report, conducted by the health ministry and released Thursday, said that only 49 percent of women were attended to by health professionals during childbirth.
This means a seven percent increase as compared to 1999.
However, the high urban-rural divide in this field is quite evident as the survey found that while 75 percent of urban women get professional assistance during childbirth, only 39 percent rural women get such assistance.
Institutional births (childbirth in hospitals) have increased from 34 percent in 1999 to 41 percent in 2006, but "most women still deliver their children at home. Only about one-third of women received postnatal care within two days of delivery".
The survey also found that more than three-quarters of pregnant women in India received at least some antenatal care (ANC), but only half of them visited an ANC centre thrice.
However, the report said that infant mortality has dropped to some extent. While 68 infants used to die for every 1,000 births in 1998-99, the mortality rate has declined to 57.
"There were particularly notable drops in the infant mortality rate in Bihar, Goa, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Orissa, Punjab, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh," the survey said.
But the situation regarding child immunization rates during this period (1999-2006) has not been very encouraging. Overall, there was only a marginal improvement in full vaccination coverage, with 44 percent of children in ages 12-23 months receiving all recommended vaccinations, up from 42 percent seven years ago.