The Telegraph
Wednesday , November 27 , 2013

Health schemes fail to reach poor women

Guwahati, Nov. 25: Most mothers and pregnant women, living below the poverty line, are unaware how to avail of government health schemes, claimed World Vision India, an NGO, during a daylong training programme for Anganwadi workers.

The NGO has been working at 18 locations in Lokhra, Basistha and Gorchuk here to educate BPL residents on how to avail of health schemes provided by the state government. This is a part of their Urgent Management and Action for Nutritional Growth (UMANG) programme.

“During our interactions with different families in the area, we found about 117 children who were extremely malnourished. Their malnourishment was one way or the other linked to the bad health of their mothers. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are suffering from anaemia and malnourishment. While they cannot take nutritious food during pregnancy and after child birth because of poverty, ignorance about government health schemes prevents them from opting for institutional delivery,” said Mercy Jishing, programme development and information coordinator of World Vision, India.

The maternal mortality rate (MMR) of Assam is 347 per lakh live births, which is still higher than the national average of 172 MMR per lakh live births.

The infant mortality rate (IMR) is 55 per 1,000 live births, which too is higher than the national average of 44 per 1,000 live births.

While the government is promoting institutional delivery, there are still many poor women who have no option other than opting for delivery by quacks, as they cannot afford medical treatment.

“These women are mostly very poor and even when they go to a government hospital like the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital they don’t know who to approach for guidance to avail health schemes like Mamomi, Majoni, Janani Sishu Suraksha Yojaya and Janani Suraksha Yojana. Due to the huge rush of patients there, the doctors are unable to devote sufficient attention to each patient. Many people even do not know where the nearest urban health centre or public health centre is. And no private hospital wants to offer free institutional delivery to poor mothers. At best they may subsidise, but do not give free treatment,” said Grace Lalbiek Gangte, cluster coordinator, Integrates Programming Child Health of World Vision, India.

“These women also continue to do hard work even during the term of pregnancy to make ends meet. As such they are malnourished, anaemic and do not get sufficient rest. This, in turn, affects the health of their babies. Also delivery by untrained quacks exposes them to infections,” said Lalbiek Gangte.

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