Please cite this paper as: Mullick SS, Serle E. Achieving millennium development goals 4 and 5: a snapshot of life in rural India. BJOG 2011;118 (Suppl. 2):104–107.
The case studies presented here illustrate the poignant reality of life for mothers and children in rural India. We highlight the challenges of achieving millennium development goals (MDGs) 4 and 5, by exploring the reasons behind maternal and childhood mortality using the three-delays model as a framework. Gender disparities, lack of empowerment of women, poor understanding of life-threatening illness, the inability to know when and where to seek help, security issues, deficiencies in understanding cultural perceptions, poorly equipped health facilities and a lack of skilled personnel are all highlighted.