Government is forming guidelines for labour rooms in hospitals as part of its efforts to reduce the maternal mortality rate (MMR) and infant mortlity rate (IMR) in the country.

A recent review by Union Health Ministry officials have observed that "infrastructure of labour rooms and quality of service delivery requires improvement" in government facilities, said a senior Health Ministry official.

An experts committee comprising representatives of UNICEF and medical experts from hospitals has been constituted to prepare a standard lay out design for labour rooms for handling normal and complicated labour.

"As of now there are no standard protocols which need to be followed while setting up labour rooms in hospitals. For accelerating the decline in MMR and IMR, it is important to identify, track and manage high risk pregnancies and simultaneously improve intra-partum care.

"About 15 to 20 per cent of pregnant women and also the new borns can be saved by placing proper intra-partum care (care of healthy women and their babies during childbirth) in labour room," said the official.

Maternal Health Division has prepared a toolkit which does not give micro detail of a labour room in terms of types and specifications of labour table, radiant, warmer, different types of trays, the curtain and interior design of labour rooms, the official explained.

"A team of Health Ministry officials which recently conducted a review of the hospitals, community health centres and primary health care centres across the country observed that infrastructure of labour rooms and quality of service delivery requires improvement.

"At the same time, however, the sick newborn care units (SNCUs) at the same facilities have been constituted as per standard designs where technical protocols are being adhered to and are thus able to provide quality care of a much higher standard than labour rooms," the official added.

Under the Millennium Development Goal 5, the target is to reduce MMR by three quaters between 1990 and 2015.

As per the Sample Registration System (SRS), Registrar General of India (RGI-SRS), MMR has declined from 178 per 100,000 live births in 2010-12 to 167 per 100,000 live births in 2011-13. Four states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan together contributes to more than 60 per cent of MMR in the country.