The Telegraph
Wednesday , January 29 , 2014
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Newborn care off track

Ranchi, Jan. 28: Manpower crunch and lack of Mamta Vahans are proving to be a big hurdle in the way of popularising institutional delivery in Jharkhand.

Civil Society Network for Child Rights (CSNCR) revealed its findings at a daylong workshop in Ranchi today.

CSNCR, an umbrella organisation of over 300 NGOs working on issues related to child rights, had carried out Newborn Care Sensitisation Week in November 2013 to find out problems that are coming in the way of institutional delivery at the grassroots.

During the week that was observed across 15 districts of Jharkhand where institutional delivery rates were very poor, it was found that unavailability of Mamta Vahans was the main cause for rural women to avoid health centres for delivery.

Also, members of various NGOs who participated in the workshop pointed out that lack of health personnel, coupled with poor infrastructure, had been a major dampener.

Bablu, a representative from Kukru block in Seraikela-Kharsawan district, said, “Only four out of the nine panchayats in the block do not have Mamta Vahans.”

Munni Chaki, from Goelkera block in West Singhbhum, echoed Bablu. “When a pregnant woman experiences labour pain, her family looks for easily available facility, like a village dai. We need to spruce up the facilities to boost the rate of institutional delivery.”

During the weeklong campaign in November 2013, around 120 gram sabhas were held in 88 panchayats.

“It was observed that most of the panchayat representatives were unaware of the issues related to newborn health. Also, in places where Mamta Vahans were available, it was unable to reach the pregnant woman as the road to her home was non-motorable,” said Father Clement Kujur from Goelkera.

Madhulika Jonathan, health programme officer with Unicef Jharkhand, said, “The report on the weeklong campaign revealed that around 359 newborn deaths were recorded during the week. While Sahiyyas were able to reach nearly 75,912 households, they were able to refer around 1,494 complex deliveries to higher health centres. Therefore, it is important to discuss why understanding newborn care is important for rural communities.”