Pregnant women in Delhi miss out on central scheme as dispensaries run out of vaccination cards
Pooja,19, is five months pregnant. A resident of a slum cluster in southeast Delhi’s Tughlaqabad, she was to get the mother and child protection (MCP) card from the local health centre in the first month of her pregnancy. It would help her enrol in the union government’s scheme that helps expecting mothers with monetary benefits.
“Each time I asked about the card, the staff there tells me that it’s not available and hands out a paper slip instead,” she said.
The problem is widespread. Over 500 Delhi government-run dispensaries and urban health centres in the city have run out of these cards, which will be a vaccination record for both mother and child. However, for Pooja, it also means access to ₹5,000 that will be paid in three instalments under the Pradhan Mantri Matru Vandana Yojna (PMMVY) to her bank account.
The slips that Pooja is provided with keeps vaccination records, but not access to the fund. In case a slip is lost or she doesn’t have the relevant slip, she could lose benefits of the scheme entirely.
According to officials, the centres have run out of these cards for over a year.
“In case of missing documents of the first three months of pregnancy, it is difficult to register women under the scheme,” said a Child Development Project Officer (CDPO), in-charge of block level monitoring of anganwadi centres in southeast Delhi, who did not wish to be named.
“Commonly known as vaccination card, it is essential to keep a record of the immunisation of both the mother and the child. It has been out of stock since early last year in my area. We have asked people to keep photocopies of the slips, yet they end up misplacing it, which affects treatment,” said supervisor of a cluster of aanganwadi centres in Samaypur Badli.
According to a senior Delhi government officer, the cards have been out of stock as the tendering process took a long time, as well as for other procedural issues.
Dr Nutan Mundeja, director, directorate of family welfare, said, “The cards are in the process of being procured and will be available at all the over 600 health centres that provide the services within the week.”
According to Arvind Singh, head, research and advocacy, Matri Sudha, an NGO working in field of health and malnutrition, availability of these cards is the key to health for a large part of the population in Delhi.
“The card is the only proof for important vaccinations such as tuberculosis and hepatitis B. It is important in the backdrop of severe malnutrition witnessed among children in low-income settlements,” said Singh.