Would-be Moms Shied Away?
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14 April 2010
By Abantika Ghosh
New Delhi, India
Of 2,129 Registrations, Only 598 Deliveries Under Mamta Plan
The first review of Delhi government’s Mamta scheme that was launched in April 2009 to promote institutional deliveries has revealed glaring loopholes. Figures available with the health department show that of the 2,129 registrations till January this year, only 598 babies were actually delivered in these hospitals. This has prompted health minister Kiran Walia to call a meeting of the authorities of these hospitals to find out the reason behind the high dropout rate.
The CAG report for the year ending March 2009 had pointed out that 68% of the deliveries in the city took place in homes or private dispensaries with inadequate infrastructure about which the health department had no information. The scheme launched to address this problem seems to have fallen flat, with some health officials suspecting that rather than meeting the government’s objective it may have ended up being an advertisement for these hospitals.
The figures tell their own story. Shastri Hospital in west Delhi registered 1,136 patients between April 2009 and January 2010, but there were just 127 deliveries. Sehgal Nursing Home registered 346 people but had just 40 deliveries. Virmani Hospital had 15 deliveries out of 38 registrations. However, there were some institutions like Shubh Nursing Home where deliveries exceeded registrations. The reason being that though some patients did not come for antenatal checkups they were brought during advance stages of labour, officials say.
The hospitals have been pressing for an upward revision of the money that the government pays to them. At present it is Rs 4,000 per delivery. Officials suspect that some hospitals may be using the scheme to attract patients but later persuading them to opt out by offering “discounts”. “That is the only way to explain such a massive dropout rate,” said a senior official. Officials also do not rule out the possibility of a scam. Explained an official: “We give hospitals Rs 2,000 for every registration and another Rs 2,000 if the delivery also happens there. So, it makes financial sense for hospitals to register patients and not do the follow–ups.’’ These allegations are subject to investigations to find out the truth.
Under the Mamta scheme, Delhi government pays designated hospitals Rs 4,000 for at least three ante–natal checkups with all necessary investigations, nutritional supplements to the mother, delivery and one week of post–natal care. There are 27 hospitals across the city which have signed up for this but the figures have been disappointing. The scheme is funded under the National Rural Health Mission.
“The huge gap in the registrations and actual deliveries is a cause for worry. We have called a meeting to understand the problem and find ways to remedy it,” Walia told Times City.
Hospital sources say that patients drop out on their own. A doctor in an east Delhi hospital said: “This is not the first scheme with a high rate of dropouts. We can only register patients. It is not our job to drag them back for follow–ups. If they are not coming, it is the government’s job to strengthen the network of health workers rather than casting aspersions on us.”