Standing committee report highlights transportation issues of pregnant women

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New Delhi, Feb 12 (PTI) A standing committee report to examine 'Women's Healthcare: Policy Options' highlighted the issue of unavailability of easy transportation of expectant mothers to the nearest delivery points still remains a arduous task in view of difficult geographical terrains.

The report tabled in the Lok Sabha said the Health ministry has not paid enough attention to the transportation problems faced by pregnant women, particularly when the labour pain starts.

'The committee have found that easy transportation of expectant mothers to the nearest delivery points still remain a arduous task in view of difficult geographical terrains, lack of transportation facilities, natural calamities, security threats from insurgents in some parts of the country, curfews, hartals as well as many other arising out of unforeseen circumstances that may have serious health complications for the women who are on the verge of delivering babies,' it said.

Therefore, the committee recommended that the government start discussion with States/UTs to build 'Pre-delivery hubs', preferably very close to the delivery points, where they can be brought in 7 to 10 days ahead of Expected Date of Delivery (EDD) and finally be moved to the delivery points with the onset of labour or one day in advance of EDD; where they would be looked after by skilled attendants and given medicine and diet appropriate to the health needs of the pregnant mother.

'The committee also believe that it would help reduce the out-of-pocket expenses of mostly poor and marginalized families as well; who are forced to shell out hefty amounts to hire vehicles to take the expectant mothers to the far-off many parts of the country,' it said.

In order to reduce maternal/infant mortality rate, out-of-pocket expenses for poor and marginalized families, health complications due to enroute delays in travel to hospital and other associated difficulties, the committee in their original report had recommended to build 'Pre-delivery hubs', for pregnant women where they could be brought much before the date of delivery and given proper diet and medical care.

The committee also desired the government to issue suitable guidelines under Maternity Benefit (Amendment), Act 2017 regarding increased duration of paid maternity leave, work from home' , and 'crèche' facility for all working mothers -- both in the private and public sectors of the country.

The Ministry in its reply has informed that Government of India has made provision for releasing funds to States/UTs in the Project Implementation Plan (PIP) for establishing 'pre delivery huts/ Birth waiting homes' and presently such pre delivery huts have been established in seven states -- WestBengal,Odisha,Kerela, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh.

'In order to address and mitigate the issue of malnutrition among the children of tribal community, the committee had recommended to cover private schools in tribal areas as well as out of school tribal children under Mid-Day-Meal Scheme (MDMS). In this regard, it has been informed that the recommendation has been noted by the Ministry and the States and UTs would be consulted in the matter,' it said. PTI UZM CK