Govt plans to give Rs 1K for flagging maternal and newborn deaths
The Union health ministry would be paying Rs 1,000 to anyone who reports the death of a newborn or a new mother. The decision aims at tackling the problem of underreporting of such deaths in the country.
While deaths that take place in hospitals are being duly reported, a large number that is left unreported is from outside hospitals; it is these that the ministry aims to cover by introducing incentives.
“We are looking at achieving zero preventable maternal and newborn deaths by 2022, for which there has to be 100% reporting of deaths as it would give experts the cause behind the loss of new mothers and newborns,” said Union health minister Harsh Vardhan.
The ministry is putting a call centre in place, with a toll-free number, where people may call to alert about a death, especially in their village. The number will soon be made public.
“Underreporting is a huge challenge that needs to be addressed to achieve the targets we have set for reducing maternal or infant mortality rate. We will be involving volunteers from within the community, such as NGOs, elected representatives at the panchayat level, self-help groups etc. The incentive should help in people coming forward to inform the authorities,” said a senior health ministry official requesting anonymity.
The globally accepted cut off of 42 days is the criterion for reporting a death.“Once a call has been made, we will send a team of experts to the spot to investigate the death. The documentation will happen accordingly. Apart from reporting of deaths, the ministry also has zero tolerance for any negligence in providing maternal services, especially denying treatment or care. A robust grievance redressal mechanism is being built and complaints will be addressed in a time-bound manner,” said the official.
Meanwhile, the health minister launched ‘Surakshit Matritva Aashwasan’ (SUMAN) initiative on Thursday under which all the programmes on maternal and newborn care will be merged.
According to government data, 52% pregnant women access public health facilities for delivery services. Under the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) targets, India’s maternal mortality rate has to be brought down to below 70 per 100,000 live births by 2030.
“The global target is 2030, but the health minister has set an early target of 2022. Integrating all the existing schemes will help in providing wide access quality care services,” said the official.
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