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Maternal health disgrace for state

The state health department was left red-faced on Tuesday when a central team assessed its performance in a programme for pregnant women, newborns, children and adolescents.

Armed with presentations and field reports, senior officials from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW), Union government, identified several lacunae and holes in the implementation of the Reproductive Maternal Newborn and Child Health+Adolescent (RMNCH+A) programme under National Rural Health Mission.

Launched in 2013, the programme is meant to ensure healthcare facilities for pregnant women and their children right up to the adolescent stage in 11 high-priority districts of the state — Sahebganj, Dumka, Godda, Pakur, Giridih, Lohardaga, Latehar, Chatra, West Singhbhum, Seraikela-Kharsawan and Palamau.

But the ministry officials, who toured West Singhbhum health centres on a random basis over the past week to prepare a status review of RMNCH+A, found that Jharkhand has failed miserably in guaranteeing service delivery at the grassroots level and were not following central guidelines.

The findings were shared by Manoj Jhalani, joint secretary (planning) of MoHFW, and deputy commissioner Himanshu Bhushan with Ashish Singhmar, mission director, Jharkhand Rural Health Mission, and Sumant Mishra, director-in-chief, health services, besides other senior officials at a daylong review meeting at RIMS auditorium.

A PowerPoint presentation, complete with testimonials and photographs, was shown. The entire health service delivery was broadly divided under eight sections with the grey areas being marked out in each head (see chart).

For instance, in the maternal health section, it was pointed out that essential drugs were not available at delivery centres in rural areas; registers were not maintained; and biomedical waste was not disposed in keeping with rules

“The issues raised today (Tuesday) should be taken seriously and initiatives should be taken to fill up the gaps. Please follow the central guidelines and fast-track infrastructure construction projects and align them with the needs of the health department,” Jhalani suggested after the review meeting.

“This assessment should not be taken as a criticism of health services. Instead the gaps pointed out should be plugged with initiatives and actions. Any support required in terms of budgetary allocations should get reflected through the draft of the Project Implementation Plan (PIP) of JRHM, that is sent to NRHM, Centre, for approval,” said Bhusan.

Mishra, on the other hand, promised to pull up their socks.

“We will do everything we can to perk up the situation and improve our performance,” he said.


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