The previous Congress government in Rajasthan claimed that the Janani Shishu Suraksha Yojana (JSSY) had succeeded in reducing deaths of new mothers, but case studies by an NGO reveal a starkly different picture.
According to the Annual Health Survey, the maternal maternity rate in Rajasthan declined to 264 deaths per one lakh live births in 2011-12 from 331 in 2010-11.
However, non-governmental organisation (NGO) Prayas says the facilities of the scheme often fail to reach the beneficiaries.
An investigation by a Prayas team found that five new mothers died from December 15, 2013 to the end of January this year in two primary health centres (PHCs) - Mungana and Naya Boriya of Dharyawad subdivision of Pratapgarh district - due to reckless handling by the health centres.
All five women were aged between 20 and 25 years. They were illiterate and lived in mud houses but had availed of healthcare services during their pregnancy and for the delivery.
None of them had any pre-existing medical condition and were not classified in the high-risk group at the health centres. But they were subjected to incomplete ante-natal care, which was limited to two injections of tetanus toxoid and distribution of iron folic acid tablets.
Three of these women died at Government MB Hospital attached to Medical College, Udaipur. These women were Hira Meghwal (25), a mother of one child and resident of Khedi village; third-time pregnant Kesar Meena (25) of Uzadkheda village; and first-time pregnant Ganga Meena (20) of Sarangiya village, who was eight months along.
Bhairki Meena (20), a resident of Likniya village, died on a government ambulance after being referred from Mungana PHC to Pratapgarh district the hospital, 40 km away.
Bhairaki died of severe post-partum heamorrhage.
Kamla Meena (22), a resident of Hazariguda village, died at home because the nearest sub-centre she reached after getting labour pains asked her to go to a district hospital. But there was no public transport available while private vehicles operators were unwilling to go for fear of being looted.
Ganga and Bharki died before delivering, while the other three women delivered stillborn babies.
The NGO has taken up the issue with local health authorities and state health officials. It has stated that the district does not have a full-time chief medical and health officer as well as reproductive and child health officers for more than a year. The Pratapgarh district hospital has only 17 doctors against the sanctioned strength of 47.
Prayas has written to the Rajasthan government as well as Government of India, asking for investigations into these deaths and measures to avert such deaths in the future.?