With 13,000 reported deaths every year during or post pregnancy, the maternal mortality rate of the state is one of the highest in the country.
Addressing a women's meet at the missionary-run Asha Niketan Welfare Centre here, Topno urged them to tap government programmes and schemes to promote safe motherhood.
More than 250 self-help groups from various districts, including Hoshangabad and Sehore, participated in the meet organised by the Madhya Pradesh Samaj Sewa Sanstha.
"The main causes behind the high rate of maternal mortality include delay in recognising complications in the first pregnancy, hindrances in getting pregnant women to hospitals and pregnant women not getting any medical facility at all," other speakers noted.
However, they acknowledged that the government was beginning to tackle the issue of maternal mortality on priority basis ever since activists encouraged by the UNICEF started the issue.
While UNICEF communication officer Anil Gulati helped accomplish an action plan to combat maternal deaths, Vandana Agarwal of the same organization elaborated on the causes of such deaths and measures to prevent them.
"Anemia is one of the important factors contributing to maternal deaths," she told the participants and explained how to recognize its symptoms and prevent it early.
Chief medical and health officer D.S. Ohri detailed various schemes run by the health department to promote safe motherhood.