Pregnant women, living in flood relief camps in Bihar, do not want to move to hospitals and other health facilities for delivery as they fear they will lose out on government compensation.
Doctors said the reluctance was noticed after chief minister Nitish Kumar announced an award of Rs 15,000 and Rs 10,000 to the parents of every female and male child, respectively, born in boats, relief camps or hospitals.
“The villagers feel if they leave the relief camp and move into a hospital for delivery, they will be deprived of the government largesse,” Dr Anil Kumar Verma at Danapur’s Baldeva High School flood relief camp said.
Rambha Devi of Maksudpur village and Sunita Devi of Kasimchak village in Danapur do not want to leave the relief camp in Danapur.
“Both the women are in their ninth month of pregnancy but are reluctant to move out. My efforts to convince them to move to the adjacent sub-divisional hospital, Danapur, which is barely 150 metres away, or to the primary health centre, Khagaul, approximately 4 km away, have been futile so far,” Dr Verma told Hindustan Times.
When HT spoke to Sunita Devi’s brother-in-law Dharmendra Sao, a ‘panch’ (village-level arbitrator) of ward number 14 in Kasimchak village of Danapur, he said, “It is not possible for me to commute between both places - the relief camp, where most of my family members are staying after being displaced by floods, and the hospital where the doctors now propose to take Devi. I will consider shifting her to a nearby health facility when she develops labour pain.”
Elsewhere, in Danapur’s Tribhuvan Park relief camp, Rajmuni Devi of Hasanpur village, is also reluctant to move out.
“She’s into her eighth month of pregnancy and is expecting her sixth child after five daughters. She is adamant on staying on in the camp itself,” Dr YB Mandal said.
At the Bihar Vidyapeeth School camp in Patna Sadar, Shobha Devi of Bind Toli village is equally reluctant, medical officer in-charge Dr Udai Pratap Narain Singh said.
Patna civil surgeon Dr Girendra Shekhar Singh, however, told HT that pregnant women did show initial reluctance to move out of relief camps to health facilities apprehending dislocation and fear of losing money.
“However, things have been sorted out now. We have deputed ambulance and doctors 24x7 at all such relief camps and will transfer all such pregnant women when they develop labour pain,” he added.
The floods, caused by several overflowing rivers - the Ganga, Sone, Punpun, Burhi Gandak, Ghaghra, Kosi and others - have affected 31.33 lakh people in 1,934 villages in 12 districts in the state. At least 40 people have died.
The Ganga is flowing above danger mark at seven places in four districts including Patna, Bhagalpur, Munger, and Buxar. Buxar, Bhojpur, Patna, Saran, Munger, Vaishali, Begusarai, Samastipur, Lakhisarai, Khagaria, Bhagalpur and Katihar are among the affected districts.
A total of 3.44 lakh people have been rescued, an official release said. It added that 433 camps were being run, giving shelter to 1.74 lakh people.